I'm Not Perfect.
This article was originally published at sarahtallman.com Yup, you read it here first. I was born with the need to be perfect. No comments from the peanut gallery please! It's the thing that keeps me up late at night, and gets me up early in the morning. It's what called me to my first ballet class at the age of 5. It's also why I cried after my first dance recital when things didn't go my way. It's the knowing desire for the unattainable that is a blessing and a curse. The curse part I would like to do without. We've all experienced it. For some it's a funny stomach, fast heart beat, biting nails when you're not a nail biter. For me it's the paralysis that comes during the drive to the theatre that sort of feels like I could just keeping driving out of the state. When it's all over I'm smiling from ear to ear as though that nasty bug never reared its ugly head. Like it vanished into thin air without a trace.
I love ballet. I love performing. I love class. I love rehearsal. I love the costumes, and the music, the soothing monotony of putting on make-up, the 5 minute thrill before the curtain goes up. However, there is a certain "thrill" I would rather not live with. The perfectionist, fear of failure "thrill". Yeah, yeah, it's all a part of it. I have tried to push it down as far as it can possibly go. But when the fear creeps in, it takes over and sits on my chest for weeks to come. So what's up with this super unattainable idea of perfection?
The entire month of July was mine, and I took it. I had nothing but time. Must be nice, I know. I took the advice of nearly every happy blog across the country and said "yes"... to everything. Running, aerial dancing, pole dancing, movies, concerts, last minute trips to the mountains, sun burns, fishing, GLAMping, my first 5k, BBQ's, cabs at 4am, 30 day yoga challenges, 10 day sugar detoxes. Vision boards, mission statements, mentorships, relationship marketing strategies, expensive sleepovers with my husband in ridiculous hotels, extreme cleaning, extreme cooking, extreme wine tasting, and one extreme headache. I have repainted furniture, made new light fixtures, planted flowers, and vegetable gardens, I actually baked a cake (for those of you that don't know me, this was huge and it was from a box, but I did it). Girls nights, dates with my husband, time alone and now I am writing my first blog. It's been fun, it's been educational, and never once did I think about being perfect .
The truth is I was the opposite of perfect. I did a lot of things that I could have screwed up. Maybe I did screw things up, I don't know because I busied myself in discovery. I took a lot of deep breaths and entered into everything with the idea that I had time to do it all. I saw the end of things come and go, and took time to recognize, relish, and really live in each new adventure. Zipping around town I had a huge smile on my face, and a new sense of freedom and excitement. The wheels in my brain started cranking. More than anything, I really want to be able to stay connected to my heart, and my soul when I'm doing my job. You know, the thing I love. Bringing my new found serenity back to class and the workspace would be a challenge. Old habits are hard to break. How can I create ease, and excellence all at once? The answer struck my heart and my intuition was waving its knowing hands in my face as if to say "Wake up Sarah, just breathe, you have T-I-M-E!"
A-ha! So this it what it means to live in every moment, in every tradition. I thought about how often I cheat a 4 count grande plie or shorten the develope devant. How often I brush over the the step that will actually help to do THE step. Always in a rush to get to the next thing in fear of failure just so I can be perfect. I've been missing out. Mindlessly skipping over important transitions just to be "right". Who knows how long this has been going on, maybe forever. I adopted this maniacal mindset a long time ago. I might not be alone. Learn it first, get it "right", be perfect. If I finish first, I win right? Win? Win what? Win nothing, just more nerves, shaky legs and more hamster wheel accompanied by disappointment in myself, and the flash of an amazing experience right before my eyes.
The transitions are what I have been missing, Taking the time and necessary breath to execute all the parts. It does not mean to speed up or slow down. It means to enjoy, live and fully believe in each moment regardless of the duration. It means bending time to make room for the art, the athleticism, and the magic. It means to be present in every 8 count (or 7's and 11's as the case may be) phrase of music. Time to hear each luscious note so carefully crafted by the genius of its' composer. Time to create relationships on and off stage. Time to learn and delight in all of the complexities of a simple step. Time to contribute to somebody's dream. Time for my own dreams. Time to stay out of judgement. Time to play. Time to listen. Time for grace, love, and gratitude.
I look forward to cultivating an honest affair with my new buddy, Time. One that revels in exploration of all the parts. Together we can breathe, achieve, and really sink our teeth into the joy of whatever that new venture might be. Maybe it's simply driving to the grocery store, taking a yoga class, making a new recipe or trying a new restaurant. Maybe it's diving into a new piece of choreography, working with a new group of dancers, breaking down a step to its minutia, or allowing myself to see the big, beautiful picture. Whatever it is I'm dedicating myself to enjoying the car ride to theatre, the 4 count grande plie, the challenge of a pas de deux, the unknown of a raw solo. I'm craving it. I happily accept the challenge to give and exist in the joy of the journey from home to work, and back home again. I vow to get lost in the discovery of my paintbrush so much so that failure won't even cross my mind. After all I'm here to make art. There's no winning in art. There is only art. It won't be perfect…and that's perfect.