Wednesday, October 18, 2017

OOTD: On Growth

*TW* Depression, anxiety, and other themes of mental health.

Last week, my therapist told me that the goal of life isn't to be perfect: it's to grow. This makes sense, and it isn't the first time I've heard it. No one can be perfect, and denying this makes making progress harder. It's hard to work when your goal is objectively unattainable. At the same time, though, this statement hit a little too hard. I've spent my whole life trying to be the best. What am I supposed to work towards if not perfection?

Dealing with depression and anxiety as an analytical person is interesting, because my emotion and reasonable mind are both regularly functioning on high and are often in conflict with each other. My emotion mind screams that I cannot possibly solve any given problem, and that there's no point in even trying because I was miserable before this problem arose and I'll likely be miserable even if I solve the problem. My reasonable mind overcompensates, telling me that I can solve every single issue I'm faced with, so long as I do everything right.

This is how I've tried to address everything in my life for as long as I can remember. Doing everything right, though, is exhausting. Sure, I'm taking good care of myself – I see my therapist weekly, my general practitioner regularly, I get in 30 minutes of exercise a day, I've cut back on sugars and added vegetables to my daily diet, I stretch every day, and I walk around with the most pertinent pages of my DBT handbook to deal with emergencies. But good is not perfection. I don't eat enough potassium, I could exercise more strenuously, I could eat plain oatmeal instead of adding brown sugar, I spend too much time in bed, and the other day, someone told me that I should go gluten-free if I wanted my depressive symptoms to ease up. In my mind, then, it doesn't matter that I'm doing better than I was a couple years ago: I'm not "cured" because I'm still not doing everything right.

And that's just to mention the things I know about that I could be doing better. Another key part of solving problems is being armed with knowledge. I am a firm believer that the more you know, the better you can do. I mean, I have a degree in psychology partially because I wanted to know everything about how to make myself "better" after being diagnosed with depression at age 15. Knowledge is a valuable power, but it's not the only power out there. 

After all, no one can know everything. Neither can you act on everything, as so much of what humanity knows is conflicting. So, striving toward knowing everything and behaving perfectly is inherently a doomed mission, certain only to create failure and self-doubt.

By no measure do I consider myself near perfection. I'm simply so obsessed with obtaining perfection in every aspect of my life that the growth I have made seems embarrassing when compared to my goal. I am so obsessed with obtaining perfection that, no matter what I do, I find myself trying to figure out how I could have done better, and how I'll do better next time. I am committed to growing and becoming a better person, more than I am committed to anything in life. Part of being a better person, I think, means being realistic and accepting of one's flaws and missteps. Plus, over-analyzing everything I do takes time away from actually living life. 

I'm not sure how to end this blog post because I'm still trying to figure out what I'm working towards if I'm not working to be the best. So, I'll end by saying that I've been waiting since the spring to wear this outfit with my denim jacket for the blog. It's the middle of October, but on the day my friend Sydney took photos of me, it was still too hot for a jacket. I'm going to post these pictures without thinking of how I should have worn this outfit another day or powered through and worn the jacket anyways. 

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