I’m a perfectionist, an overachiever. Or. I was a perfectionist and an overachiever. At everything. I’d compete over anything humanly possible. Best and brightest at school and work. Prettiest in my class, hottest of all my friends. Any game you mention; I’d learn it just to beat you in it. Settler of Catan? My village beats your village. Bowling? Yea I’ll throw this ball better than you. Watch me score. Sudokus, mate you got no chance. Lifting weights? If you’re a strong man, can’t win, but can still lift enough to have you make that face – that, did not think you could do that face. Getting ahead in my career? Damn straight. At my age, to be in my position, fuck yeah. And dating? I once dated a guy whose picture made my mum say “he’s too pretty for you”. Dude was boy-band-pretty for sure, and to my mum’s comments – mommy issues, but we’ll leave that for now. I was perfect in all external measures. Superhuman even. That’s what some people called me. Super human.
What that did is. Well, it fed my ego, obvs. But it also prevented me from talking about things that were wrong. Things that were really, really wrong. Things I was in denial for – this doesn’t impact me, I’m doing great. Things I knew were getting to me but could not talk about – to not mess with the image. When I started to realize, to admit I was not in fact doing great, I was on a too high of a pedestal. In others, and in my eyes. I knew I was standing on a wobbling pile of boxes – a pile that could fall apart at any minute. Instead of focusing on my feelings on top of it, or on the strength of the boxes, I was focusing on the perception of me potentially falling. I spent my entire energy on balancing on those boxes. All my strengths on trying to stand up on them. All my energy on smiling through – I got this all under control – no problem here.
I was dying inside, my energy was running out. Instead of asking for help from others, admitting I could use someone or something to strengthen my base or that I’m not doing as great as I pretend to be, I took on more. My problems, others’ problems, work, personal. All piled on me. Try and balance that if all you do is focus on smiling. You can’t. You will fall, you will break you, you will break your world, and you will break your smile. And that will be the best thing that ever happens to you.
I fell in pieces. The height of the boxes, the superiority of other I had built – mainly in my head. Sure, some people called me a superhuman. But my friends had seen my fall way before I had. They knew I was full of shit, struggling, battling, and barely coping. My fall was not just about admitting the flaws in my structural holdings, but for me to admit it to my self. To be fully honest, with my self. I’m a mess, but I’m dealing with it. I’m admitting I’m weak, and damaged. I’ve gained soooooooo much weigh, I spend a lot of my time crying or hiding from the world, my drinking habbits are adding litres and litres to the national average. I’m not great. But I’m getting help.
I’m on antidepressants and I’m seeing a psychologist. I’m starting to feel better, I’m starting to recognize me again – not from the mirror, that chick is still 20kg overweight but maybe hiding somewhere behind all the fat. I’m getting smarter, faster, better at work. I’m getting better. And what does my brain do? It wakens the perfectionist and overachiever. I have these voices in my head telling me I should have already lost 10kg, I should be able to run a marathon, why haven’t I solved all the problems at my company yet? The voices are demanding, and they are disappointed that my reality, my reality, is that. Some day I sleep till noon. I still order junk food on uber eats. I still drink too much wine on weekdays. Some days I just spend 8 hours watching Netflix and moving the mouse on my work laptop so that the bubble on Teams doesn’t turn yellow. I don’t see my friends, I cancel on them. But. And here’s the thing. There is a change. This morning I put my couch pillows coverings to the washing machine as they were dirty, I cleaned my bathroom, and instead of the grocery store 2 minutes from me walked to the one 10 minutes away. I even took my empty wine bottles to recycling. And I did them without having to convince myself to do them. I just did them. This might seem tiny to you but they are massive to me. Even just a couple of months ago these things would have required days and days of internal discussions, of debates of voices of how “could you please just do this” voice going against “who the fuck cares” voice.
I care, that’s who. I care. And I realize this is not an overnight trip. My overachiever side will get her turn but for now we are not aiming for perfect overnight. And it’s going to take a while. We are making progress. And for us (me and all the voices in my head, and, maybe you too?) it means taking small steps at a time. We will have setbacks, we will not be perfect. We are making progress. It takes time. But we will make it. We might take some steps back, we might take side steps. But. We are making steps. We are trying. We are taking steps. It will take time. But we will make it. We will.