I’m a perfectionist.
What this means in actual practical terms is that I don’t believe in doing anything half-heartedly. From the simplest of jobs to the most complicated, I put in one hundred percent.
Unfortunately, this also means that unconsciously I tend to expect everybody else to have a similar mindset and approach towards life. Of course, this is unrealistic but like I said, most times, it’s done unconsciously. I’m learning how not to do this; how not to expect so much from anybody because frankly…I’m a little tired of being disappointed with people or more accurately, feelingdisappointed.
Everybody brings whatever they can to the table.
Some of us bring half of ourselves and then there are those of us who bring every little bit of ourselves. That’s the way life goes – people are different. But of course, like most things in life, this difference in approach also has its own implications, especially in relationships.
My own life is witness to this fact with the countless misunderstandings I’ve had in many of my friendships/relationships about one of us expecting too much or too little from the other. What I have learned is that expectations need to be spelled out otherwise they can create a whole lot of problems between friends, lovers, work colleagues, siblings and sometimes even between strangers.
A week ago, I found myself in a situation that downright angered me.
This person (nice person) with whom I share an unavoidable relationship did something that I always consciously try not to do to her or any other person. I go out of my way to make sure I don’t make her feel uneasy in this particular issue or offend her. I put up with the inconsistencies many a time. So for her to seemingly forget all my kind consideration and do the very thing I make an effort not to do to her was to me simply an outrage. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t understand it. I couldn’t take it.
In my weakness, I internalised it. The more I thought about it, the more it upset me and the more I withdrew from this person. (I knoooow…that’s a weakness I’m seriously working on!)
Two days ago, I stepped back from the situation and tried to look at it more objectively, which was extremely difficult for me to do. But it was as though I was looking at myself in the mirror and it hit me that if I’m not very careful my perfectionist tendencies can also spawn in me self-righteous tendencies. It was like a cold, shocking slap across my face.
I realised that I had never really thought about what it means to love people even when they wrong you; people who for some reason cannot do unto you as you do unto them.
I clearly saw that loving these imperfect people absolutely requires me to remember that I am also imperfect. And trust me, for a perfectionist such as myself, this was a revelation.
My being a perfectionist has nothing to do with being a Ms Goody-goody or seeing myself as being perfect but it’s more a drive that comes from the very core of me; the drive, impulse and desire to do everything right and well.
But alas, I am imperfect.
I, too, wrong people. I, too, hurt and disappoint others. How then do I expect to be loved by others if I cannot and do not acknowledge my own imperfection? And this is what clearly came into focus for me.
My relationship with the person is still affected at the moment as I’m still dealing with the fall out of my own emotions. But I have learned something very important;
Loving imperfect people, which we all are, requires that we put on humility, vulnerability, patience and forbearance; it requires that we take a deep breath, think things through so we do not act rashly; it requires that we step out of our comfort zone and sometimes see ourselves mirrored in others.
But most importantly, loving imperfect people, which we all are, requires that we remember that we, too, are imperfect.