TURNING 30, SOME THOUGHTS

After 30 years of chasing perfection, I am FINALLY chasing peace...So what exactly does peace even mean at this point? For some context, I am writing this reflection on the last thirty years of my life. It’s my 30th birthday today and I initially imagined I would have a big collage of pictures celebrating all the years so far of my life, some witty anecdotes on surviving my twenties, perhaps a sunset beach photoshoot with sparklers, pink champagne and cake…

Short story, it’s an accomplishment I got to the pink dress. It's the week of my wedding so I am eating mostly salads and even after successfully getting a lime wedge to hold my two pretty pink candles upright, the number 3 decided to break in half. Arthur immediately vetoed the sparklers I purchased as the condo we were supposed to move into a week ago is still an open construction site with many flammable opportunities. It's a miracle I know where my toothbrush is, let alone this fun tulle dress I spent 30 minutes unpacking boxes to get to. Yes, I did cry at some point while taking these perfectly, imperfect photos, but I also laughed so hard I almost fell off the ladder. #Balance?  

The reality is that I am writing this entry during an undoubtedly exhilarating, yet also exhausting, period of time in my life in which I am getting married, moving into an unfinished condo, preparing to take off work for three weeks, welcoming my new in-laws to Los Angeles, living out of boxes/hotels, eating more consciously without a home kitchen; oh and did I mention I am on my way to Chicago while I write this, just before my own?  

This is 30. 




This is just the reality of a surplus of extremely-positively-amazing things happening right now. I am not complaining, I recognize the privilege in having a lot to do, but I am going to acknowledge that these last couple weeks/months has taken a toll on me and I feel a bit shaken, emotional, excited, in need of some serious beauty sleep.. 

But as I reflect over these last thirty years I have of course, like everyone, learned so many things. I've essentially become more of my myself, as we would all hope one does. But of all the opportunities I've had for growth so far, the most helpful shift has been my increased mindfulness around the trap of perfection.





I could try to explain the concept myself, however this quote just articulates it so beautifully;

After endless hours of doing therapy on myself -kidding but perhaps not- there are many places this concept of perfectionism for me has likely stemmed from. Likely my resiliency coming from a family of divorce, the mean kids in middle school, the unspoken, yet powerful societal message that beauty is power. With so many unpredictable factors throughout life, it must have felt nice when having control over myself; my body, the people around me. And this wasn't a difficult thing to manifest from a young age, as I always had a confidence that allowed me to persevere, a quality that allowed me agency over my life, but also created difficulty sitting with the very human experience of defeat." I am a Leo after all. 


When I really think about this one, I realize that I created a construct of what a success looked like for myself at a very young age; a seemingly reliable way to measure whether or not I deserved the things I wanted and the things most people want; praise, confidence, security, love, acceptance. But just like Peter's quote so effortlessly explains, the perfection standard can never be met, because it's not real, it's a lie, it's not authentic. 





I suppose that's why the one remedy I've found is just that, the antithesis of perfectionism, authenticity

Authenticity wasn't easy at first. Authenticity didn't allow me to hide behind the stereotypes I tried so desperately to fit, it didn't allow me to run away from rejection. It was uncomfortable, scary for someone who tended to find solace in the constant hustle for a prize I'd never really get. And I think subconsciously, I knew that all along. I think in fact, the lie of perfectionism kept me going, kept me striving, kept me achieving things. Great things, useful and important things. 

But not the things I really needed, really craved, which I don’t think I even knew how to define until now. But now I realize it’s peace. Peace for what is, for what I am, for what you are, what the world is. In harmony of what is, which is at times not that pretty, not that easy, stowed away in a pile of boxes I just can’t find right now...





But what is real also keeps producing unapologetically beautiful things for which the burden of control can't manifest. Like my raw, relentless humor, the way I can connect and see people, starting way before I went to graduate school to become a therapist. I think we all can attest to parts of our personality that have always been there and will always be authentically us, no matter what forms of shields we use to protect ourselves. I think one of the reasons I have been so interested in other people, is because I can identify with that authentically human feeling of being vulnerable. 

Vulnerability in people is perhaps what I have always felt a particular need to draw out, through my humor, my charm and perhaps it's validation for me that I am not the only one. I now see vulnerability as the biggest strength. It's fucking hard to let yourself be seen sometimes and my mission as a therapist has always been to make that process as safe as possible for other people. Now, for myself. 




What peace now means for me. 

Connecting with people and systems who authentically support and encourage me. 
Seeking relationships for connection, instead of power, status, social mobility. 
Honesty about where I am and why I might want to be somewhere else. 
Eating well and exercising to feel good, not to appease a standard.
Unconditional love for self before anyone else. 
Accepting what I can’t control. 
Shame free, grateful


So as much as I’d love to share some salacious stories of living in la la land over this past decade or my goals for the next one, it’s just not my reality in this moment. But that doesn't mean I am not still striving for something, that something has just been redefined a bit. 

And now I can honestly say, I am finally chasing peace. 

*Chasing is an in-motion verb, it’s in process, it doesn’t have an end. It may want to stop sometimes and take a breather and grab a cookie that won’t feel good later, it may have more capacity on Saturdays and less on Mondays, but it never judges itself. It’s not a destination, it’s a practice. It’s not perfect, it’s just peace. 

-MGN

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