by Dara Chadwick
This month marked the first day of school around here and with it came that chance-to-start-all-things-new feeling that so many of us adults still get each September. It was a particularly meaningful transition for my daughter, who made the leap from middle school to high school.
There was plenty of anxiety in our house surrounding this transition. It wasn’t just the thought of new teachers, new routines, new classes and new expectations. There was also a palpable sense of “this is my chance to make a fresh start and I don’t want to blow it.”
Whew…that’s a lot of pressure — for both daughter and mom!
I have to admit it was difficult to watch — mainly because it took me right back to my own adolescence. To that feeling of “things have to be perfect or everything is just ruined.” As adults, we know better.
Or do we?
I dare say that plenty of us still put extreme pressure on certain situations. Do any of these sound familiar?
- I’m going to lose 10 pounds before my class reunion.
- This house has to be cleaned before I can invite friends over for dinner.
- I have to edit this project once more before I turn it in to my boss.
Uh…guilty. Maybe not of all of these, but definitely of the thought process behind them.
Over time, I’ve come to learn that the elusive search — or the critical demand for — perfection is really about control. “If XX happens, then YY will be happen.” But life doesn’t work that way, does it? No matter how hard we try to control events or what our bodies look like, life steps in — we get sick, we lose a job or a hurricane blasts its way up the coast and ruins our well-planned party.
How much different could things be if instead of putting pressure on ourselves to get the perfect start, we realized that every day — every moment, really — is an opportunity for that clean slate? To make a choice other than demanding perfection of ourselves and our bodies? To accept ourselves, just as we are, and make choices that reflect that healthy acceptance.
Because next week, the first-day-of-school outfit that was the subject of angst will be forgotten. The reunion will come and go — pounds or not. And the friends who come for dinner — if they’re real friends, that is — will politely pretend not to notice the dog hair under the table.