Help, I’m a perfectionist.
This is what would be on my invisible button—the one that would be pinned to all my clothes, the one that you read but don’t mention. That way, you could read it and my awkward silences would magically be explained: I was quiet when we met because I was criticizing every way I said the word hello.
When I handed you that letter, it was the 15th draft, because nothing sounded right.
I know I’m not alone. I know there are others who can’t make a move because they are scared it will be the wrong one, only to act crazy and over the top the next minute, because they just want to get out of their head.
I have no answers for things: what works for me one minute will not work the next day, but these are calming things I do:
I walk. I walk all the time, through forests and parks and at sunrise and late at night when there are more streetlights than people.
I run. I run until I can feel the blood pumping in my face and I can’t think anything except about breathing.
I try to make things—mixed CDs and drawings, if just to prove to myself that it’s the act of completion that counts, not how good it is—I try to just reach out and say, hi this is me. This is who I am.
I try to stand there and feel all of it when my chest feels like a revolving door at a department store.
I have to think about it like I’m practicing making mistakes. I make plenty: I drop trays full of glasses at parties. I lose my temper. I wear mismatched socks. I forget to wash my face. I hurt people without thinking.
If I didn’t think about it that way there is always the possibility that I wouldn’t do anything at all.
I practice making mistakes because that is a way to live that is full of action and hope for me, because at least I am doing something.
Life, I think, is about making mistakes over and over again.
I want to tell you this now because I want to get to know you. I want to go for a long walk down by the river with you. The air would smell like smoke and summer and I’d show you the constellations that I remember the names of. We’d pick cat tails and listen to the crickets singing in the grass and drink tall cans and then go get that pizza from the guy on the corner. I would be quiet because I want to listen to you tell me the story of who you are— I want to know how you got that scar and who your favourite band was when you were 14.
If I live to be old, I want to look back and know that whenever I could, I was as honest as I could be. I want to know that I was as stripped down as possible, so that you could get to know me. I like weird food and huge books and making lists for the perfect mix tapes. I got that scar by falling off my bike when I was eight and my favourite band was Queen.
I want to be real with you, I want to be real now, because perfect doesn’t exist, but messy and beautiful does and this life is all we have.
Like elephant journal on Facebook.
Ed: Bryonie Wise