For years I truly thought I had to be perfect.
Nobody passed down that mandate to me, of course. I was just kinda born with some ingrained belief in my head that this was the way I was supposed to live my life.
My dear friend Dean, who I met when I was living in NYC over 20 years ago has been leaving me these beautiful, loving, “pick-me-up in any situation” voicemails over the past year that sound like this..
“Dina, Dina Dina… Words to describe my amazing friend Dina Strada…. fearless, brilliant, hot, fun, adorable, huggable, the best friend somebody can ask for… a great mom. one of my favorite people… so many words to describe you. You are light. Absolute light. You are absolutely perfect and beautiful.”
And every time I hear one of his messages, I save it. And I listen to it on really shitty days. But I like to remind him constantly that I am far from perfect.
And even though he knows this, I think it’s so important to say this out loud. I don’t want to be perfect. It’s too damn hard. I want to be just like everybody else. I want to be able to f*ck up and tell other people about it so they don’t feel so stupid when they f*ck up too.
I want to be able to be real and have bad days, and curse as much as I want to in my blog and share with people, even the ones I don’t know at all that I don’t have it all figured out. That I struggle just as much as everyone else.
With being positive some days, or not reacting to people who consistently trigger me, or doubting myself when it comes to parenting and wondering if I’m doing a good job. Or that I make mistakes daily, even when I’ve already made that same mistake or repeated that same behavior and thought I learned from it.
Old habits die hard, right? I mean how many times am I going to say, “Well, I’m never going to do THAT again. I learned my lesson.”
Then I go ahead and do THAT.
A really close friend of mine shared with me a few years back that she was absolutely ecstatic when I finally stopped bullshitting everyone with my classic line, “I’m doing great!” and instead starting sharing the real me.
I mean like the down and dirty, “I seriously-effed-this-one-up” real me.
She goes, “Dina… thank God! I mean, I always thought you had it so together all the time and it made me feel horrible about myself and it’s just so refreshing to hear you tell me these things because I always thought, ‘How does she have it so together all the time?’ And then I’d hang up the phone feeling shittier about myself. Like what was wrong with ME?”
I had no idea sharing what a total mess I was on occasion would make a person feel so good!
Until I found myself in my friends’ shoes a few months back when I was seeing someone who on the surface seemed to be perfect and have his shit together all the time. If I’m honest, it was like…really annoying.
Not because the guy seemed to have it together because I mean, who doesn’t want that? But I mean, it really made it tough for me to be myself. And I PRIDE myself on that. Being myself and being authentic.
Instead all I could think about when I was with him was, “I have to live up to THIS? Are you SERIOUS?? I can’t even open my mouth here and talk because he’s gonna realize I’m just a regular old chick with a shit ton of baggage who doesn’t have it together all the time.”
And I hated it. I felt so much pressure. I felt like I had to be on good behavior around him. And I definitely felt the need to be perfect all the time.
And I’m not.
So, when I was feeling particularly brave, I tried challenging him on every date by sharing some perceived “flaw” or screwed up thing about myself to see if he’d run. It was kinda my way of saying, “Yea… well this is me, take it or leave it, Mister! And I bet you’ll leave it because you can’t HANDLE MY IMPERFECTNESS, CAN YOU??” MR. PERFECT….
But you know what? He surprised me. Because whatever I shared with him didn’t seem to phase him much at all. And eventually I realized that although he seemed to have it all together, he was human just like everybody else and has his own shit that he struggles with.
We really need to stop putting each other up on these pedestals and then thinking we need to sit up on that perch along with them.
There was a moment recently that I realized I’ve not only accepted that I’m imperfect, but I’m EMBRACING IT…. Here was the moment…
Someone made a remark about how I shouldn’t pat myself on the back about what a great mom I am because I had forgotten to send my son to school with an important item one day.
Normally I would have immediately been like, “OMG.. I suck. I can’t believe I forgot something so important! Why don’t I have it more together? How could I forget to do that? Yes… you ARE better than me… Almighty Person who is pointing out my flaws. Let me now get out my whipping stick and beat myself 1000 times and obsess till I make myself sick because I FORGOT SOMETHING.”
Instead I was like, “HA! I did? OMG..Imagine that! My son went to school without an important item… No, it wasn’t his homework. It wasn’t his pants.
It was lunch people! Mommy forgot to pack the lunch!” Anyone ever do this? Bueller? Anyone?
If you have, leave a comment below because I need to know I’m not alone in my imperfectness.
So I acknowledged, I forgot something. In fact, I bet I’ve forgotten at least a dozen things in the past few months other than his lunch. I make no excuses for it.
Except just one… I’m human. And I’m not perfect.
And wow… it feels so amazing to be OK with that.