Tonight, we painted our fingernails yellow. Bright yellow. Ready for a pep-rally yellow. And it felt so good.
For years, I’ve refrained from things like purple streaks in my hair, piercings, and well, yellow nails. It started when I was young, and it was my “job” to stay out of trouble, get good grades and not have sex, drink alcohol or do drugs. There was a standard, and life was easier when I complied. When I followed the rules.
I could not only do that, I decided, but I could take it up a notch. I could blow expectations and win the astonishment of my friends, my teachers and even family. I could be better than what they expected, and then they would praise me more, like me more, and I would fit-in better.
I did just that. I worked hard at everything. Starting in school and then my career, my house, relationships, being a mom, being healthy, managing finances. I experienced success. I accomplished goals. I surrounded myself with admirable people. I kept my house clean and my yard in perfect order. I had to excel. It had to be perfect.
But here’s the truth: That life that was never, ever perfect, and it was a world where I was never, ever enough.
Throughout my life, I’ve been on both ends of many spectrum. I’ve been both fat and thin, married and divorced, rebellious and compliant, to name just three. And, regardless of any definition or category, regardless of my age or my place on the spectrum, whether I was fat or thin, I wasn’t enough. Married or divorced, not enough.
I’ve known this about myself, but I had no idea how much it was influencing how I navigated life. I’d make choices based on what I thought other people wanted me to do. I’d set the bar and then raise it higher. I processed everything. I mean…e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g…through the standard of trying to be perfect and never ever being enough.
Come to find out, they’ve got a name for this. Atelophobia. Who the heck knew? That tells me that I’m not the only one who’s lived with this lie and maybe someone else needs to hear my story to put that gremlin to rest in their mind, too.
What I’ve realized is that perfect is never achievable on this side of Heaven. It’s just not. I can stop trying to be perfect and start creating my beautiful, joyful life story, that, while it won’t ever be perfect, it can be beautifully mine. And perhaps, that is better in the end, anyway.
So, for today, here’s to yellow nails!