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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)

I know that no one is capable of being perfect or always being #1... we're all imperfect humans. But, the impossibility didn't seem to affect the standards I held for myself.
"Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing." -Harriet Braiker
I breezed through school pretty easily. I did my homework, studied for tests (I think - ha), took honors classes, etc... but, I really never struggled much with school. I participated in sports (cross-country, track, softball), I had friends from many different cliques (I wasn't popular, but I had a good group of close friends). I don't think it really occurred to me that people smoked, did drugs, drank alcohol, had sex, etc. - I knew that some of those things happened, but not in my circle of friends - yes, I lived in a protective little bubble.
"All of us failed to match our dreams of perfection. So I rate us on the basis of our splendid failure to do the impossible" - William Faulkner
When it came time to apply to colleges, I applied to three private universities... and was accepted to all three. I selected my favorite (and the one that offered me the most money - still very expensive, but the best financial option of the three) - it instantly felt right, when I stepped foot on campus. I definitely chose the best college for me! I did very well in college, but it was the first time I had to try that hard and the first time that I had to truly come to terms with it being okay not to get all A's (not sure I ever really did come to terms with that, but I tried). I made some great friends and memories, and grew so much as a person.

I worked (part-time) through much of high school and all of college. I got every job I applied for, and even completed two paid internships during college. When I began searching for a full-time job for after graduation, I applied to A LOT of different jobs. I had several different interviews, and got a job offer from all but one. I accepted a job about a month before graduation, and started working just two weeks after graduation.
"One minute was enough, Tyler said, a person had to work hard for it, but a minute of perfection was worth the effort. A moment was the most you could ever expect from perfection." - Chuck Palahniuk
I succeeded at my job in ways that I didn't even expect. I learned a lot, even though it wasn't the right job for me. I never thought of it as permanent... my intentions were simply to do the best and learn the most I could from the job, earn as much money as I could to start paying off student loans, and then return to graduate school to continue my studies, marry my boyfriend (since high school... and long-distance relationship all through college), and live happily ever after (so to speak). Let's just say, that's not exactly what happened.

I applied to several different graduate school programs, but I was only accepted to one (I was "runner-up" to one of the other schools, but all of those accepted to the school decided to attend). It was pretty difficult for me to come to terms with not being accepted to more schools. I know how selective and competitive these programs are, but it didn't matter... I expected more from myself. I didn't know how I was going to move away and pay for yet another private university, so I postponed my graduate school for a year. That would've been fine, but I had my auto accident a few months after making that decision...
"Try as hard as we may for perfection, the net result of our labors is an amazing variety of imperfectness. We are surprised at our own versatility in being able to fail in so many different ways." - Samuel McChord Crothers 
By the time I was in my mid-20s, several lessons became abundantly clear (painful, yet important lessons):
  • Grades aren't everything. It's more important to integrate the knowledge and formulate your own self-philosophy than to simply regurgitate the information on a test.
  • Life experiences and achievements are not to be forced... they are to be lived and savored.
  • A full existence requires a combination of "rain and shine."
  • Just because I want something, and work my hardest to get it, doesn't mean that I can get or do it. I can do everything I'm "supposed" to do, and things still may not work out like I want (or expect) them to.


Lessons Series:

Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning the Hard Way (Part 2)
Lessons: From Suffering to Empowered
Lessons: Learning From Life With Chronic Pain
Lessons: Finding Joy

Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 1)
Lessons: Perfectionism (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 1)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 2)
Lessons: Learning to Accept Imperfection (Part 3)