Chasing perfection. I think it’s something I’ve done my whole life. But as I grow into my 30’s, I’m starting to realize that many times, this notion of “perfection,” is actually holding me back. I put that in quotations because, like many other moms and dads out there, I’m realizing there is no such thing as perfection.
I am an actress for a living. I have spent my life auditioning. I have felt the pain of “not getting the job,” as well as the elation associated with being “the chosen one.” This started when I was a child. I auditioned for Star Search twice. The second time (I must have been 10 or 11) I made it through several rounds and was told I was one of about 20 kids they were choosing from at that time…these sounded like pretty great odds! And yet I did not make it to the show. I was passed up for kids that were much younger than me. (If only I had realized that these things were mostly out of my control!)
But I do believe that moments like this led me to wholly blame myself for my “failures.” I had tried, I had done well, but I must not have been perfect. And I led myself to believe that someone else was. So I started chasing this thing called perfection. With each audition and each performance, I became the ultimate critic of myself. And I must note, that my parents thought (and still think) that I was the bees knees. Anyone who didn’t put me on their show must be out of their minds!
“There is no way on EARTH that there is someone your age out there that can sing better than you! It is just not possible!”
So I know that in their eyes…I WAS perfect…and more than good enough.
Sometimes I look back on those times and wonder if I needed this overly critical side of myself. Did it help me in some ways? I believe the short answer to that is yes. But what I found over time, was that it gave me an unhealthy view of myself that pitted me AGAINST myself and others. It was a quest to be the best. And though I had control of it on the outside, I wonder if I had control of it on the inside…or was I beating myself up? Relentlessly.
I have brilliant ideas. Usually while driving or something. These ideas catapult me to the highest of heights in my career. By the end of my drive, I have been invited on the Ellen Show as a guest, and I’m being asked to audition for SNL…I am THAT funny. This idea is AMAZING!!! And as I pull into my driveway and begin to get out of my car, this daydream fades and I am faced with my reality. I write a laundry list of excuses in my head as to why this BRILLIANT idea, could never work. I could never make it perfect enough for anyone to care. Why would anyone pay attention?! I am not talented enough. I am not funny enough. I become a true Debbie Downer.
Now before you feel sad for me, know that I recognize that I have had an AMAZING career. I have SO much to be grateful for. I make a living doing the greatest role I can think of and I have a husband and family that wouldn’t trade me for the world.
So why all this fear? At the heart of it, I think I’ve been afraid of not being perfect all this time. I’m afraid of what others might think…but mostly…I’m afraid of what I might think. And being a mom…well that is starting to cure me of this notion of attaining perfection. Seeing my children move forward so effortlessly after making mistakes, makes me yearn to do the same. My daughter has brilliant, out of this world ideas. My son does the Gagnum Style dance without a care in this world. They are not concerned with other peoples’ opinions. And they have dreams. And they are wild. And they BELIEVE. They believe in themselves and they believe in me.
So, I’m chucking it. I’m chucking the fear. My very wise friend and brilliant photographer, Ashley Sanchez once told me, “you should never make decisions based on fear.” I believe that along with Ashley, everything in my life is sending me this same message. I see it in my husband who so fearlessly believed that he could make this blog a reality! I see it in my kids. I see it in my actor friends. I see it in my parent friends. We are all doing the best we can. And if we can tell that giant critic inside our heads to shut it, we will find that there is space for all of our crazy ideas…perfect, or not!