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A Perfect Mess

Perfect Mess, artist Beth Munro
I've said here before: I'm a recovering perfectionist. Since my young teens, I've wanted everything planned, thought out, well-executed and: perfect. Yes, it's an unattainable goal, but dammit, I was up for the challenge.

That meant never giving my parents a moment of worry. Striving for the Dean's List and making it. Having that paper done weeks in advance. Making sure my kids were not only dressed well, but well-mannered.

What I never bargained for was that the Universe is not geared toward "perfect." It's geared toward "good enough," "survival of the fittest," "natural disasters," but not "perfect."

I was always missing the mark. And I was always unhappy with myself. Why, God, did you make me crave "perfect?"

This week, I got what I wanted. And it is really, really painful.

I took a job a few months ago because I really needed a job. I told myself that the place I worked would balance out the fact that I didn't really like the work. I've ended up sitting in a cubicle, with walls so high I cannot see anyone else, doing data entry. Two days this past week, I realized no one even spoke to me except to address a work-issue.

As a gregarious, out-going Irish girl, this is a fresh Hell.

To make matters worse, I'm lousy at this job. I've tried to be super-careful, watch the details and learn, but I...suck.

Now, I've come to realize that my brain doesn't work as well as it used to. With depression, anxiety and trauma a big part of my life for the past 15 years or so, my brain isn't always as precise and careful as it used to be. I've had to compensate, work around and make do. I've gotten much more comfortable with "good enough."

But "good enough" is not good enough for this job. And my boss told me this week that my work was "disappointing." I had to sign a piece of paper that said my work would be "error free" in two weeks or I'd be done.

"Error free" is humanly impossible, so it's pretty easy to guess where I'll be in a few days.

Isn't God funny? I prayed for years to be free of the burden of trying to be perfect, and here I am, a perfect mess. I no longer worry about keeping up appearances and showing everyone that I was above the fray. Now that I've clearly achieved that, I am horrified.

Every day this week, I've wanted to hide in the women's bathroom and cry. I want to go back in time and worry myself sick over perfection. But I can't. There just isn't space in my brain anymore.

I'm hoping to find a new job before I get canned. We'll see. If nothing else, I'm going to be more clear with myself and my new employer.  I cannot be error-free. I'll do my very best, but what you see is what you get: a perfect mess.

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