Have you ever met somebody so perfect that even their sheer presence intimidates you?
It took a little practice for me to realize that I was intimidated, most of the time I got a very negative feeling about this person as I judged myself against this person’s perfection and something inside me made me felt inadequate and in turn led to the aversion.
It took some effort to face my fears and to try to not run away from this feeling of insecurity and rather analyze it and this introspect has rather led me to a fascination, if I may say so, towards these people that used to threaten me with their absolute perfection.
In general I am only aware of one aspect of their personality, like the doctor who speaks so passionately, or the mom of three kids with perfect figure, or a pharmacist with awesome dancing skills, an engineer who runs 8-10 miles to work every day.
Do you see a pattern, it took me several years to figure out that I am looking at only one facet of their life and measuring it against my own little yard stick. Whereas I know all facets of my life and when it comes to judging me I am not very generous.
Let’s start with this perfect dancer, she is not my teacher but subs sometimes and so a student so perfect to work as sub intimidated me. I use to skip her classes because I knew she’ll see right through me and discount me for I am not a perfect dancer. I got to know her during a performance as she encouraged me to face my stage fright and decided to not skip her classes for she might be able to help me. One day after class I asked her, you are so perfect can you teach me to be so?
To my surprise, she confessed that she wasn’t born a dancer and it doesn’t come naturally to her, she practices every single day to be what she is. It wasn’t the first time but still very rare when someone admits to working hard rather than just discounting their own brilliance.
LESSON ONE: Practice… Practice…. Practice… to be who you want to be
Armed with my last week’s success I approached this mom of three who looks gorgeous and I don’t even know her name. I asked her how she manages to look so good, in whatever she does or wears. She literally gasped; she didn’t see my compliment coming, not at least the way it came. She admitted to working out 4 times a week at the gym but confessed that she doesn’t feel good about her body. She said she is dreading wearing a swimsuit on the spring break trip and this time I didn’t see it coming, flat on my face; really, I asked? She said her cheeks aren’t what she wants them to be and in my state of shock and admiration I blurted out, I’d never complain if I have a body like you. And to reaffirm my comment as her eyes searched for something on my face, I said, ‘I promise’. She gave me a broken smile and said in a pained voice, ‘why make a promise that you know you can’t keep’. I realized, a few moments ago she was searching for her own reflection in my face and it hit me, we are all so similar under that tissue paper of a covering that we use to define ourselves.
LESSON TWO: Accept your own goodness… just be you… don't critisize yourself
It’s a long series of thoughts and when I my thoughts ran faster than I could type, I decided to look back to take a second look at the initial thought that germinated this post.
She is a friend who thinks I and my life is perfect (of course she doesn’t read this blog, otherwise she’d know better). She cannot stop wishing for the house that I live in, the neighborhood, the school that my kids go to, the hours that I work, my social life, the work I do at school, the way I arrange things in my house, my fitness, my weight (gasp)… everything. She even bought the exact same watch I have, it was too annoying and getting on my nerves and so I had to revisit my annoyance and figure out what’s bothering me. Why is her admiration causing me heartburn? Well, cause I am not perfect, I have confessed so many times I am barely hanging in there with a tiny thread, the nervous moments, the things I long to do and I miss so many thing; I can never do all that I wish to do, it’s never perfect.
I guess it’s a problem with my yard stick and that I know too much. I knew my plans and failed to see what all I have done; instead focused on things I failed to do. Every time an outsider (the one who doesn’t know my plans) appreciated something I cringed because I was afraid that someday they’ll discover all that I didn’t do and I’ll lose their admiration.
And when I thought about the awe that I hold for other people I was reassured that I’ll still admire that perfect physique even if the butt is half an inch too small and that I’ll always strive for that one perfect show as a dancer even if I am not the lead and I’ll always think of that motivating speech when I am going to make my own presentations and no I’ll not judge their achievements against their shortcomings. They are who they are and I am who I am… I am enough and I wish to not lose that perspective.