Warning: some f-bombs up ahead.
Relax, I’m an animal lover and a vegetarian, so calm down…but seriously kill the fucking monkey.
If there was one adjective that could possibly sum up the complexity of who I am, I would definitely choose the word: colorful. I feel that it encompasses all areas of my character and the path I walk.
However, there have been many other words used to describe me throughout my life; some to my face and others behind my back. Here’s a list of them in no particular order: bitch, strong willed, controlling, beautiful, angry, fun, committed, creative and fiery.
Interestingly, and being completely honest, many of them have been fairly accurate— in certain circumstances, I actually have been a beautiful angry controlling bitch.
However, there is one word that I want to put in a little ball, chew on and spit out. It’s a word that some people along my journey have expected me to be…and that is: perfect.
Perfect was the monkey on my back.
For many years I allowed that word to cling to me, to wreak havoc on my body, brain and soul. I strove so hard to make the right choices, do the right thing and be what I thought others needed me to be.
After a while it felt like there was a freakin’ monkey on my back and I was its banana.
My mental monkey would wrap its long hairy arms around my neck, suffocating me, making me lose breath, perspective and keeping me from seeing the real truth about myself. I was so consumed with this crazy concept of whom I thought I should be that I became stressed and out of control.
Don’t get me wrong…I’m all about bettering ourselves.
But there is a difference between self-betterment and gasping at perfection.
Without that piece of me that accomplishes goals, I would still be selling cars at a dealership with a group of unmotivated, unhappy individuals.
So what makes the difference between making positive changes and striving for perfection? Having lived both, I know the difference to be the source of what we base these decisions on. The choice for self-improvement is about turning our attention inwards to uncover our beautiful talents, skills and personality and then refining; whereas the quest for perfection is generally based on unrealistic expectations or another person’s thoughts and ideas of how you should be.
Before I got there, I started breaking down.
Earlier in life, I was convinced that the ideal woman was soft spoken, mild mannered and nurturing. I knew my religious culture had expectations and ideas about the female role that I constantly battled. There seemed to be an unwritten set of rules for how a woman should act, talk and dress.
I did, at one time, think that I was able to maneuver within those parameters. I wanted to make people in my community proud of how I was portraying my divine femininity. As I started to groom myself into the straight laced beautiful serene woman, wouldn’t you know…the monkey gripped tighter around my neck and my silent screams were deafening.
I don’t know who I was trying to kid, but I was never the kind of woman who believed in a hierarchy in family and church. I argued, was defiant, laughed at dirty jokes (and told them), got tattooed (my next article: “My Tattoo Addiction”), had big opinions and an even bigger mouth. Interesting…seems like some things don’t change!
In school, I also struggled with being smart and talented. I remember getting good grades, participating in extracurricular activities and being teacher’s pet. The pressure came from inside myself, for sure, but also from outsiders observing me as a good student. It was like they saw a piece of me that was a straight “A” talented kid, but they seemed oblivious to my crazy, creative, mischievous side. The pressure was mounting and I was ready to crack.
And sadly I did.
In grade eight, I drank myself into oblivion at a friend’s house, to the point that I passed out on a main road close to my junior high.
What saved me from being run over multiple times was a group of seventh graders who each took one of my limbs and carried me to school. I was rushed to the hospital, where I stopped breathing and was diagnosed with alcohol poisoning.
I’m sure I’ve either traumatized those kids or given them a great story for the rest of their lives. Not to mention what it did to my parents.
However, the outrageous behavior didn’t end there. In high school, I was part of the academic challenge program, which is a high level of math and language arts. For whatever reason, I couldn’t handle the intensity and started to act out: hanging out with a particular bad boy, skipping school as much as attending and engaging in inappropriate activities right on school property.
For several years, it was a constant battle between what others expected of me and what I needed to discover in myself.
It was clear that my fake reality was crashing around me and yet even through the madness, I just knew that somehow, someway, I was going to be okay…if I survived.
What I needed to do was to choose to deepen my relationship with who I truly was and find my inner voice to guide me. I had to open my eyes, use my own hands and actively pull apart the tight grip around my throat that threatened to drag me into the empty pit of inauthenticity.
The realization hit me—that this was no one else’s journey but my own and that if I didn’t start to guide it, that I was going to be in big trouble.
Maybe next time, there would be no second chance.
So I said goodbye to the monkey.
Those who, like me, have ever had the pressure of the primate of perfection hanging around their shoulders, know how intensely heavy it feels. It has the emotional sensation of being held under water with no ability to gain a satisfying gulp of air. This feeling causes fear, anxiety and a sense of finding fault with ourselves and other people.
We need to take a step back and realize who is running our show…we are. We get to choose each day how we live. That is one of the joys of waking up. We can cultivate this through quiet time, meditation, reading, practicing yoga, surrounding ourselves with nature, traveling and journaling. There are many other ways to deepen self-awareness and love but we first need to find the courage to know that we can make our own decisions and live in our truth each and every day.
And here’s a radical second step: let go of what others think.
In other words, kill the fucking monkey.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Apprentice Editor: Yaisa Nio / Editor: Travis May