I’m so afraid.
Afraid to live.
Afraid to die.
Yet, to live, and to die are the only two things we are guaranteed.
So that leaves me with not much choice but to face my fears.
Unless I want to hide in the stifling comfort of my four bedroom walls forever. Or not live at all. But I don’t want to die—not yet. Because being a human on this earth is nothing short of magnificent.
I often forget how exquisite it is just to be alive. Probably because I’m too busy convincing myself that I’m not a worthy enough player in this game of life. That I’m an unlovable, mistake of a woman, who cries too much and isn’t very good at, well, anything—a dud.
I wasn’t made for the “good life.” Yep—that old chestnut. The all too common fallacy that stops us realising our own inherent greatness and beauty.
At some point, I decided that in order to be worthy of a life filled with love and happiness, I had to stop being unapologetically and spontaneously myself.
Because how could I possibly be happy or worthy of love with a flabby belly like mine? Cheeks full and dimply like mine? A wardrobe full of stretchy pants like mine? An old, dinged-up car like mine? A second-hand bag from the charity shop like mine? A sometimes sad and anxious mind like mine?
But I’ll tell you the trouble with attempting to achieve a perfect life—it’s hard work. Laced with anxiety, digestive issues, adult acne, eating disorders, social anxiety and OCD, to name just a few.
Perfection doesn’t require a whole lot of love to flourish. Perfection doesn’t feed off love, it feeds off the absence of love. And what is a life without love?
Every morning I dressed my heart in a straight jacket. Every night, it howled to be set free.
Perfection doesn’t allow room for heartfelt confessions. Or a messy, bundled-on-the-floor-in-a-foetal-position breakdown. Or spontaneous relocations of country with no house or job. Or the simple idea that if you happen to not fit into your pants any more, you just go and buy a larger size, instead of hot-tailing it to your local farmers market to buy up for the juice fast you’ve shamed yourself into.
So I’ve decided that the pursuit of a perfect life is the quickest and most effective way to secure an unhappy life.
But hang on, aren’t we told that only when our lives reach this mystical state of “perfect,” (perfect house, perfect partner, perfect job, perfect body) can we be happy? Wrong.
Those things don’t exist. Nothing is perfect until we label it so. Our perception is what makes something perfect, according to our beliefs and expectations.
We have to be willing to give it all up—how we think it’s all suppose to look, and what we expect should happen—and instead, continuously come back to how it feels. We need to ask ourselves over and over again if our decisions are supporting and encouraging a life we feel good about.
Can I be the messiest, most depressed, tear-stained version of myself and still feel worthy of being loved?
Does counting the calories in my birthday cake make me want to avoid any and all future special occasions? Because if I eat my own birthday cake, I’ll spend the rest of the week torturing myself with a menu of tinned tuna and steamed broccoli.
If I lost all I own tomorrow, would I still feel whole with breath as my only companion?
When we’re dying, we aren’t going to give a damn about what our life looked like, what we looked like, what our house looked like, what our partner looked like.
And trust me, when we’re dead, no one else will give a damn what it all looked like either.
Death is coming to each of us.
So when it does—
I want to have lived in such a way that made me happy.
And I know this much is true—
It won’t come from a substantial bank balance, or an array of possessions.
It most certainly won’t come from attaining the “perfect body.”
It will come from having opened my heart for the whole world to see—
Telling that person, “I love you,” without needing a reply,
Crying in front of that stranger,
Helping someone who couldn’t return the favour.
It will come from living in such a way that in the end I can say,
I loved who I was—
Especially the wobbly,
The dark bits.
Because I believe they are what make people beautiful.
I knew that one day I would die.
So I lived in such a way.
That made me happy.
Author: Kate Bennett
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren
Photo: Author’s Own