Practising self-compassion (as opposed to perfectionism) is an act of courage. It is a decision to be authentically “you” in the light of great pressure to perform or conform. The Perfectionism Book
On seeing the romantic comedy Runaway Bride as a student, one of my friends gently remarked on a similarity between the main character, Maggie (played by Julia Roberts), and me. Maggie, the ‘runaway bride’, would morph into an extension of whichever man was her current fiance, even eating eggs the exact same way.
For a long time I didn’t really know who ‘I’ was. It was hard to be me when I didn’t have a firm sense of self or even know what I liked and what I didn’t. I was sometimes too scared to say what I thought or what I liked in case I was rejected.
So – just for fun, here are some things I like:
- detective novels
- walking around lakes
- 80s pop music
- personalised items e.g. my mug with my name on it
- looking forward to events, such as holidays
And some things I don’t like:
- walking up mountains
- mint chocolate ice cream
- mixing different pasta shapes
- very hot weather
It might seem strange to write how it once took courage for me to say what I liked and what I didn’t especially when it’s so easy now to state my preferences. I am secure and loved enough to be authentic about my likes and dislikes.
However, I did struggle when Small Boy was a baby with contradictory parenting books. In the end I decided that I couldn’t perform to the standards in the books, especially when they had opposing views! I gave up reading them, decided Small Boy was not Text-Book Baby, and realised that although I wasn’t a parenting expert, I was the expert on my child and his needs.
I am getting better at being authentic about my emotions. I recently shared in a baby massage group my experience of anxiety when pregnant (you can read about that time in Not drowning, but swimming). I explained how I was in a midwifery team set up for women who needed support with their mental health and how beneficial this was. I felt stronger not weaker for sharing my story and my struggle.
I’d rather live my life as an open flawed person than pretending to be perfect.