My third commitment is that I will continue to let go of my perfectionism, which for me often manifests as internalised frustration at things not going as I envisaged or going my way.
I am painfully aware that I have not posted for a few weeks now. This is partially because almost all my free time and energy has been taken up with organising a work event I was both hosting and participating in for International Women’s Day, which was due to take place tomorrow. This morning I received an email that read: due to current circumstances – the outbreak of coronavirus – I should postpone the event.
Financial analysts describe such occurrences as the outbreak of coronavirus as a ‘black swan event’: one that goes completely beyond the predictable, normally with severe consequences. The impact of these events can be far reaching in quite unexpected ways, something I experienced this morning. As I felt all of the adrenaline seep out of my body I felt deflated, upset, disappointed; all of the hard work and preparation had been derailed by something I am ultimately powerless over. For a perfectionist, this can be a visceral experience, or akin to that final brick in the Jenga tower being removed, which makes the entire structure come crashing to the ground.
Overcoming perfectionism is a personal obstacle I have been working on for the past few years. It can be as pointless and insidious as jealousy and it never amounts to anything more than self-sabotage, and undermining oneself and one’s achievements. Throughout my life, this has looked like getting a B in an exam when I had worked for an A; to being hard on myself about the way I look or how much I weigh; to beating myself up for not meditating every single morning without fail (I am aware of the irony here!).
When I received the email this morning, in the space of about 10 minutes I went from feeling sucker-punched when I read it, to stating: “I’m not cancelling the event” (I was gently reminded that this was not actually my decision), to feeling like I was about to cry. Fortunately, I had a meeting scheduled with my mentor, and this provided me with the space I needed to tell myself that if I fast forwarded 5 years, was I going to remember, let alone be upset over this event that I had to postpone? Likely not. By talking about what happened to this trusted person in my support network, I was able to to shift my perspective entirely. Life is not linear. In any case I was able to use the free time I would have spent learning my presentation for tomorrow writing this blog post, i.e. something which brings me joy and satisfaction in and of itself as opposed to being to achieve an end-goal.
It’s not easy letting go, but I truly believe that every challenge we face comes with both an accompanying lesson and silver lining, even if they are not immediately apparent. I don’t doubt that between now and October things will go awry or unexpectedly occur in relation to my Nepal Trek. I know that if I can embrace these things or at the very least be compassionate towards myself when they happen, I will have an entirely different, more meaningful and infinitely more joyful experience.
PS – I am also going to put the link to my JustGiving page at the end of every post – if you have enjoyed reading my story and would like to sponsor me, then you can do so here (but absolutely no pressure if you just want to check out the content!). Please copy and paste the link: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/katesnepaltrek