My whole life I have struggled with a disease known as perfectionism.
By this I’m not referring to a kind of faux “negative” character trait you might give in a job interview in order to avoid having to admit to any real flaws.
No, to me perfectionism is an insidious internal expectation that I should be astounding, awesome, awe inspiring… literally incredible at everything I do, as soon as I turn my hand to it. As a kid, whenever I failed to be awesome at everything immediately (obviously this happened a lot!) I would tell myself ‘I’m not good enough’.
I spent years constantly berating myself for not being this incredible super hero I thought I needed to be.
My first two job interviews (entry level public policy analysis roles in central government departments) were horrifying. I was so convinced that I was terrible that when both employers offered me the job I turned both down, convinced I was completely useless. They both fought to employ me, trying to convince me I had what it took. Looking back I’m relieved I accepted an offer in the end, albeit against my “better” judgement!
Luckily now I have Parkinson’s! Now I am a bit shit at many, many physical tasks, and a bunch of cognitive ones too.
But wait a minute I hear you thinking… what is so great about that?
The answer is – now I’ve got an excuse! At karate training one time last year, I was helping a group learn a new kata, and they were struggling with a particularly difficult part of it. I said to them, ‘I find this part hard too.’ To which somebody said ‘Yeah but at least you have an excuse!’
I pondered this response for a while, like when you prod a bruise to see how painful it is.
I realised that the low expectations people have of me are strangely liberating. I have an automatic pass when I stuff up, and when I do absolutely anything at all the crowd goes wild. Just turning up gets me applause and hugs and kisses.
Always look on the bright side right!
Perfectionism is really a giant ego-trap. I realise now that being a little bit shit at just about everything doesn’t affect my value as a person.
I am still a beautiful drop in the ocean of consciousness, and always have been.
Admittedly this has taken a long time to dawn on me, and I don’t remember it all the time. But hey, blame that on the Parkinson’s too! You can blame everything on the Parkinson’s – people thinking you’re drunk in wildly inappropriate contexts, failing to make it to the toilet on time, not being able to sleep (or poo, or remember things, or button your shirt, or text legibly, or exit the lift when the doors open, or stop yourself moving, etc etc etc ad infinitum).
Parkinson’s – its a bloody exhausting raw deal to be handed in life – but it certainly shines a light on what you have to be grateful for!
And it teaches me every day (over and over again!) that even though I fall down and do lots of stupid things, I am still okay. I am worthy of being loved. And actually, I really am a mighty superhero. Just for turning up.