Monday, April 12, 2010

tales from an imperfect perfectionist

Ahoy there mateys! Hope you weekend was wonderful, because mine was certainly interesting ;). So much so that it has got me thinking a lot about they way that I approach life. Yes, life, as if it were one stagnant entity, even though I surely know that it is constantly changing and evolving. Oh I get so incredibly self-reflective at times. Anyway, despite my constant effort to present an outward appearance that is always put together, responsible, and fun... I am first to admit that I am hardly perfect. I mean, really, how could I be? I am merely a human being; a miraculous specimen that is as prone to flaws nearly as much s/he is to strength. 
[A.M. beverage: grande coffee, black]

Yet because of my obscenely high hopes for myself, I find that I often have the ability to be disappointed, most destructively, with myself. I make mistakes. all. the. time. I sometimes choose, or say, or do, the "wrong" thing. Now, allow me to elaborate in the vague story-telling proceedings:
[Breakfast: cinnamon raisin bagel with butter]

A: I slept through a very important freshman class, handed in a project a few days late, and received a test back with a very, very bad grade. Promptly after, I arrived at the gym that I had just joined and went to three exercise classes without having eaten lunch. I felt sick for the rest of the day.
[Spring in full-bloom, can't get enough]

B: I dated a high-school boyfriend until the early fall of my sophomore year. It was at that time that he broke up with me because of something that I did. I then spent the next four months feeling unworthy, in addition to not getting over him. I also became obsessed with keeping my apartment clean, and eating well strictly.
[Lunch: mid-afternoon Mediterranean Salmon Salad from Panera

C: I spent some of my time abroad feeling guilty for not physically being there for people I care about. I felt agonized and helpless. I literally lost multiple full nights of sleep as a result, and then often ate a fourth meal out of comfort. Weight gain came not too far after.
[K & I's Blue Tusk complete meal: beer for her, wine for me]

D: I let myself become involved with mentally, physically, or emotionally unhealthy people.
[Dinner: tuna & two pepper wrap]

Moral of the stories? Life went on, I am still me. I am an ultimately an intelligent and warm-hearted person and will always be. I can still take pride in all of the things that I have accomplished and, for the most part, I have not gone "wrong" in many of the choices I've made. I am lucky; I live a privileged life in many ways, I am loved by many worthwhile people. Nothing and no one is perfect but I need'nt blame myself for any of it. I can only try to do what's best, for me, at the present moment in time, and hope for a positive outcome.
[Saturday night on the town: myself (left) with wonderful bar-hopping friends]

I'm not saying that I don't believe in taking accountability for my actions, but most of the time, I can't help but think that no one deserves to punish themselves. Like I said, we are human beings, and as such need to accept, first, that we are more than capable of mistakes, and second, that we will survive them. No matter what your concern or worry, I hope that you know that you're not alone.
Being gentle means forgiving yourself when you mess up. We should learn from our mistakes, but we shouldn't beat the tar out of ourselves over them. The past is just that, past. Learn what went wrong and why. Make amends if you need to. Then drop it and move on."
Life is too short, too precious, to be wasted on people, places, and things that stifle our happiness, fulfillment, and well-being. Instead, let's try letting go, surround ourselves with everyone and everything that matters, be gentle with all, and actually live.


  1. Well-said, Danielle.

    In addition to the other things you've mentioned, break-ups can be really rough. A few years ago I had the same reaction with being restrictive about food as you did (and feeling unworthy, and obsessing...).

    But you're right. We have to be there for ourselves just as much as we're there for others. Positivity breeds positivity!

    PS Butter on bread/toast is fantastic.

  2. great post! we are usually are own biggest's important that we all remember not to be too hard on ourselves! i make lots of mistakes, too. everyone does.

    also, this is the second time today i've seen that salmon salad on a blog...i need to head to panera soon! looks delicious!

  3. Danielle, I am continually impressed by your maturity and introspection.

  4. Sagan: Thank you my dear. P.S. It is delightful :)

    Tyler: Thanks, that's why I had to write it out for myself! and the world ;) go get 'em!

    Shane: Aw, thank you sweetheart, that means a lot.

  5. I was actually just discussing something similar with a client yesterday... he said that we must forgive ourselves (for all of our shortcomings, mistakes in life, etc.) before we can forgive others. So even those people that do stifle us in different ways must be forgiven, but only after you have passed the "it must be my fault for XYZ reason" stage. I agree accountability is important, only as long as you say yes, it's my fault, but I forgive me because we all eff up sometimes. You get this already, I'm just solidifying/ synthesizing this idea in my head on your blog comment page because it makes more sense when I write it all out. :) Happy Tuesday chica! :)

    PS remember the song "Long Day" by MB20? somehow it seems fitting here, too. now ya got me listening to matchbox 20! hah. good times.

  6. Beautiful post honey. I think it's great when we look back at our struggles, as hard as they might be, but see how far and how strong we've become from it all and in the end...we're still the happy people we were before, and just as beautiful, inside and out!

  7. I can absolutely relate to this post, thank you so much for sharing. It's so hard for perfectionists to not get down on themselves for every mistake, but I'm learning that these mistakes make me a bigger person. I'm learning THROUGH them, which ultimately forces me to a) let go of my desire to be perfect and b) makes me a more compassionate and understanding person.

    Love the bagel with buttah for breaky- I'm reintroducing bagels into my life and they're the best!!

  8. This is such a beautiful post, Danielle. One of
    my favorites to date. I can just tell that you've grown, matured and learned to fully take advantage of your life, health, intelligence and beauty in only the best way!

    Not to mention that raisin bagel with some
    butta sounds amazing right now! Hope you're having a great day :) xoxo

  9. I really enjoyed reading this post, Danielle. As a perfectionist myself, I often forget that we are merely human beings (I think there's a TS Eliot reference in there somewhere). We are imperfect, and all we can do is roll with it and live life to the fullest.
    Thanks for sharing your "imperfections" with us.

  10. crunchygranolagal: Ah, how timely! That makes so much sense to me and I really appreciate you writing it all out :) hahaha, and I'm listening to that song, right, about, now...

    Trying To Heal: Wonderfully said, thank you!

    Gabriela: I'm so glad that it helped you to read it! It's such a constant internal pressure but I think as we evolve through different people and experiences, we are able to rise above it. Good luck with your journey past perfectionism :) bc besides, you're practically perfect already! I know, what a delicious weekend breakfast!

    jesslikesithot; Oh thank you sweetheart. I like to think I have :) go get one and same to you!

    BroccoliHut: You are very welcome my dear. It's something that I think a lot of food/fitness bloggers deal with. As helpful as it can be to an extent, it can also be very dangerous, yet another thing to find balance in ;).

  11. Perfectly articulated, D! I feel the exact same way about so much of "life"--- I don't realize how much pressure I'm putting on myself to be Perfect, and end up agonizing and obsessing when things don't work out 100% to plan.

    You have clearly learned so, so much from all of your experiences, which is a huge success in my book! (And the bad grade on your paper? You're a second semester senior, it happens!)

  12. What a great post. Your comments at the end are so meaningful!

  13. Katie: I knew I wasn't the only one. Thanks so much for adding your own perspective. And the encouragement is always appreciated :)

    whataboutsummer: Thank you very much my dear! I'm glad you got something out of it!

  14. I wanted to tell you the same-"you're not alone" but guess you already know it. I think on these exact lines many a times. I've deprived myself of so many things wonderful just because I made some mistake, hurt someone. Then I learnt to make amends. I apologized and forgave myself. It helps a lot. It's like a kind of washing out the dirt from your mind and filling it with new hopes. I'm glad you're doing the same.
    You're a wonderful girl and deserve so much better. Never mope, please. It only makes you gain weight ;)

  15. Lively: Thanks so much for commenting sweetheart, everything you said really hit home for me. Currently working on keeping my body and mind in shape for always ;).

  16. i have had this post open on my computer all week and have reread it several times. i can soooo relate to so many things, and the one thing i have learned through it all is that punishing yourself is never the way to go. accepting your defeats/sides of your personality that are not always the best MUST happen. it is only when we begin the process of acceptance can we begin to change. you are beautiful, wonderful and fantastic - love you!

  17. Man. Great post. And really something good for me to read RIGHT NOW. Someone told me yesterday that it sometimes much harder to strive to be HUMAN, than to be perfect. I need to just tell myself "it's okay" more, instead of beating myself up.


  18. Holly: I'm so glad that it spoke to you! You are a beautiful, wonderful and fantastic human being as well. So glad to "know" you :)

    glidingcalm: Thanks darling. That is such a true statement and I hope you come to accept is I have. You're too amazing to think otherwise!


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