When i was little, i hated crayons.
To my 5 year-old mind, crayons symbolized everything that was wrong in the world. Those fat, lumpy, awful smell, and the color was uneven, making it impossible to color inside the lines. The tip of a crayon go blunt easily and even if you sharpened it, it didn’t really work the way i wanted it. My mom would always asked me to pack it nicely in a bread container (she collected all hand-me-down crayons) after using them. It broke easily. I never re-used them once it was broken. I didn’t like short, ratty and ugly crayons.
Few years later, i got a new box of color pencils. Overjoyed and thrilled, i threw the crayons away, secretly. At least, i can color a picture with much precision. Then it happened. i was not good in art. I thought with the right tools, you can get a perfect result. I looked at my coloring book. My friends showed me theirs. It completely shun me. I was not good enough.
Happiness then became a perfection to me.
” Wrong note! It’s E not D! Again!”
My first piano lesson experience. Never play a wrong note. Mistakes were not accepted. Must curved my fingers, Avoid high shoulders. Focus on fingering. No, do not ask. Repeat. Memorize. Practice. I don’t know why music teachers were cruel in the past and i remembered crying a lot when i couldn’t play a piece flawlessly. But subconsciously, i am duplicating some of the method to my students these days.
The worse i feel about myself, the more i need to be perfect.
During school days, i love to participate in competitions which i was capable of showing some skills. Failure in getting a prize for my poem contest; ‘The Sugar Plum Tree’, it marked an unforgettable scar in my heart. Years following the painful event, I received numerous awards for public speaking ,debate, spelling-bee, story-telling, regional essay contest and also piano competitions. I was even featured in an exclusive interview on paper. But… i was not happy. I thought the awards and rewards would made my life a better one. Yet i remained the same.
Instead of finding the fun of pursuing something I like to do, I have used it as a scale of my own value. So each time one of these activities falls short of my personal benchmark, in my mind it is actually me falling short of being perfect.
I’ve kinda known this for a while, but as i now lace full on, words on a page, I see how i shut myself off from such a wealth of joy, fun and pure pleasure. I always let it define me. I live in a world where it’s only A or B, Black or White, Fail or Distinction, Good or Bad. There were times i craved for someone to tell me i am okay, and i am doing fine. The personal standards i set for myself brought me to despairs more than to improvement.
I get upset with others. I don’t like flaws.
None of my friends would have known these facts. I was always smiling, happy and encouraging to close friends. That monster in me lurks at the little discomfort I find in conversation, character, things they didn’t do or did right. From the way they dressed to their nails. I often looked at fingers and find fault with it. I can’t help it. I get upset with the shape of certain nails. I’ve learned to detach my expectations from people. It is hard. I still wish they cut their nails properly.
I am the perfect flaw.
My life is still less than what i dreamed of. Things are not in place. Everything i planned and expected of fall short of my perfect little canvas. I was constantly unhappy how life was treating me. It’s a journey of learning to let go. To think for one second, it is okay. I am okay. It will be okay. Okay has been my new drug , to immune myself from falling into the benchmark i once planted.
Embracing the moment of failures.
Happiness for me has been based on series of getting everything perfectly,orderly, beautifully done. Yeah, it is inhuman. I live in a reality of confusion where there is never been a perfection right from the start of mankind. Acceptance is what brought me here. I can never say goodbye to failures. It is within life itself that make us stronger. True joy comes from embracing the moment when everything is not working right and life didn’t get you an inch to what you expected it.
Sometimes, i guess i just have to stop and smell the crayons…