I was running late for ‘save my life school’ today, and nervous that I wouldn’t be on time, when my friend sent me a text saying, “Go get a good grade, it doesn’t have to be an A+ though. Lol. Be well Nat. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Hold your head high”. I took a screen shot of it, (like I have with many beautiful messages over the last week and a half), because it meant more to me than she probably knew. I quickly replied, “Ok, B+ it is!”, and scurried into class at the last minute, with that small text massively on my mind.
As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, my perfectionist attitude has not always served me well. I’ve enjoyed the accolades I’ve received over the years as they remind me of my hard work and dedication, but they were always somehow (at some point) never good enough. Humber College’s Board of Governors Award had to turn into 1st Place at the Durham Paramedic Competition, which then had to progress into Victoria University’s Outstanding Achievement Award…you get the point.
Coincidentally, (NOT ironically…thank God!), one of our topics in class today was ‘Perfection vs Discovery’; two dramatically contrasting attitudes in life. I found throughout our discussion that for me, many of the hardships in my past lead to significant discovery, but also inescapable perfectionism. Allow me to explain. Having a daughter at 18 years old filled my world with discovery. Being a new mom and falling in love with your child is something you can’t describe with words. Discovering how to feed, dress, and overall care for her was a challenge, but I loved it. However, each night when I put her to sleep, I wasn’t able to rest, or be excited for a new day, because every second of down time was used to formulate a future success plan. A plan I had no choice but to perfect…the quality of my daughter’s life depended on it. So when I was finally accepted into Paramedic college, I didn’t just scrape by, I needed to be the best so I knew without a doubt that I would be able to provide for my daughter. We weren’t going to stay in the rundown apartment we lived in. She wasn’t going to grow up in a bad neighbourhood…it just WASN’T going to happen. I stayed up late every night to practice scenarios and study non-stop. Each test mark I received could have been better…Are there bonus marks available on this test? I would write out answers that were so long that the teacher would come over and take the test away from me mid-sentence. “I’m not finished!” I would say. “Yes you are.” They would reply with an eyebrow up in the air. The pressure I put on myself to succeed was slowly making me sick. I didn’t get to truly enjoy school (like I usually did…don’t judge), because the only mark that let me sleep at night was an A+.
Fast forward to today…I learned that I need to balance my perfectionism with discovery. According to my handout, I believed that there were only ‘winners & losers’, when in fact there are ‘winners & learners’. Lame…but I guess it get’s the point across. I also learned that I need to be less critical of my mistakes, and when someone complements me, the only reply necessary is, “Thank you”. On a positive note, I can say with certainty that the perfectionism I relied on years ago has subsided quite a bit…(your should see the pile of laundry in my basement!) But it lingers, and effects my response to challenge today. I need to relax a little, and discover new things that I may not be the best in. This morning my friend reminded me that in the school of life, you don’t need to pull in A+’s, you just need to show up and keep trying…(even if you’re late). 😉
*Final line credit this evening goes to Miss AB <3 I love you.