I have learned that one of the side effects of perfectionism, at least for me, is stifling my real interests. I have done this in some manner since sometime in elementary school. Perhaps I was trying to fashion a type of bully-insulation because it is safer to blend in than to stand out. While I don’t think I’ve been a complete chameleon regarding personal expression, I have changed myself to gain the approval of others as I have already established in this series. Kind of like the character, Ann Perkins from the Parks and Recreation tv show.
When Ann realizes that she has adopted parts past boyfriends’ personalities while she dated them, it reminds me of an exaggerated version of my own story. During a garage sale scene in the show, Ann shows up with several moving boxes brimming with items. Each box labeled with a different man’s name and containing items she acquired while dating them. The kicker about the boxed items is that Ann, only recently, realized she never liked the things in the first place, hence their relegation to the garage sale. Each man she dated was different therefore each version of Ann was different. When Ann dated Chris, she called it her “Health Phase” because he was into health and fitness and had collected a box filled with all sorts of crazy health gadgets. Andy was into music and constituted her “Grunge Phase,” illustrated by the endless flannel shirts she kept pulling from that box. Tom loved all things luxury and represented her “Needless Shopping Phase” which she also referred to as her “Credit Card Debt Phase.”
When Ann realized that she was not honest in her self-expression, she boxes up everything that doesn’t mean anything to her, both literally and figuratively, and gets rid of it. She doesn’t know how to be herself, but she is open to finding out and not hiding any longer. I struggle with the same things when I spend too much time essentially throwing myself under the proverbial bus. My mind feels blank sometimes because I don’t have clarity about who I am because I have spent so much time trying to act like something else. When I realize how disassociated I am, I find one of the only ways to reclaim myself is to make firm assertions about the things I like…and not apologize for it.
Here is a short, and by no means exhaustive, list of things I like:
Clue (The Movie)
singing along with popular music
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
finding solitude in nature