Yesterday at brunch, I admitted to a friend that I’m a perfectionist. You wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at me (messy hair, Ewok keychain, confused expression) but I can be a little insufferable. I’m not an ‘apron over my pencil skirt’ type of perfectionist, I’m more of an ‘if I can’t do something well, I just won’t do it at all’ nut job. It’s been a problem in my life, of course, what with all the not getting to do lots of cool things but an even bigger issue has been when I inevitably fuck up. I mean, I make mistakes. Let’s get real, I probably make more mistakes than the average bear because I’m such a freak about it. But the problem is that I can’t shrug off my mistakes. It’s like the world is ending. I can’t even. I beat myself up for them mercilessly. Someone could cut me off in traffic, lean out the window and call me a “dumb bitch who hates dogs and babies” and I won’t even blink but if I accidentally back out and almost hit a car in a parking lot, I’ll be upset with myself for the rest of the week. It’s dumb. It’s something I’m working on.
So, yesterday, I tell my friend this. We laugh about it. We move on with more exciting brunch topics. My meal was more than hers so when the check came, I suggested I get the tip since it would be almost exactly the difference in price. We finished our brunchy cocktails. About ten minutes later, the server came back after running our credit cards and I tipped on the amount it said, completely forgetting I was supposed to tip on the full amount even though I’d JUST SAID I’D DO THAT, legit fucking up. Cue the catastrophe music. I left the restaurant and drove off to do errands and it wasn’t until I’d parked my car and was walking into the first place that I realized what I’d done. I felt ashamed and embarrassed and really mad at myself. I drove back to the restaurant, found the waitress, apologized and gave her the correct tip money. Then I abandoned my errands and drove home cursing myself, even though what I’d done had been an accident. I found myself listening to that little voice in my head, the one that calls me an asshole and an idiot. (I seriously need to get that little voice a massage or some good drugs.) But then it occurred to me that it would be a good time to practice a little self-forgiveness and not, you know, tell myself I’m the worst person on the entire planet. It was fine. I’d fixed it, hadn’t I? No harm, no foul or some other vaguely sporty overused phrase. But I couldn’t shut it down completely and stewed about it for the rest of the afternoon.
When I told Tim about my ‘adventure’ later that night, he just sort-of looked at me like I was crazy. He told me there was nothing to be embarrassed about, that it could’ve happened to anyone. And that’s when I realized the extent of my own bullshit. Yeah, I thought, it was really hot! There were Moscow Mules involved! I didn’t mean to stiff her! And then I realized this: Fuck that voice. The little voice in our heads isn’t always right. Most of the time it’s just a raging lunatic that we actually listen to for some reason. If I’d forgotten the tip, realized it and not gone back to make it right with the nice waitress who’d let us occupy her table for over two hours, then, yeah, maybe I would be worthy of my own venom. But, holy shit, aren’t there enough haters in the world? Do I really have to add my own voice to the chorus? So I let it go and then we got ice cream. Which totally helped, you guys.
The next time I do something dumb, I’m gonna let myself off the hook a little easier, a little faster. I’m gonna do whatever I can to fix it and then I’m moving on with my life. Maybe I’ll even take it a step further. Maybe I’ll take the perfectionist down another peg by trying to do something I know I’ll be terrible at. Like, I dunno, running or playing an instrument or letting someone hug me without yelling, “MURDER!” I’ll let you know how it goes.