Sunday, September 9, 2012

About NOT Being Perfect

Perfect, perfection, perfectionist ... to some these are just words, but to others, like myself, they're much more than that ... they describe how we see ourselves and how we approach life.  What does it mean to be perfect?  The dictionary defines perfect as "having no faults; without defect; exact; impeccable."  Can anyone be perfect?  Of course not - there is no person (other than God) or thing that is perfect.  So why do some of us continue to strive for perfection, something that in reality is an impossible illusion like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?  We know it's not really there, but we like to think about it and maybe even pretend that it actually exists.

For some people, myself included, perfection is a form of protection.  If I work hard enough I won't fail at anything.  If I constantly strive to make things better life won't be so difficult.  If I always aim for perfection I won't have to admit that I'm vulnerable to life's problems and disappointments. But the truth is life is full of difficulty and disappointment, failure is a part of life, and we all have flaws and weaknesses.  "When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure" (Peter Marshall).  It takes courage to accept these things though, and we have to be honest with ourselves in admitting that realistically there's only so much we can do.

My family and friends have always laughed at me and teased me about wanting everything to be perfect.  They've even accused me of having some obsessive compulsive disorder tendencies.  It's never bothered me because I know it's all been said in fun.  The truth is though most of the things they have said are true.  I'm never satisfied with anything because I always believe it could/should be better.  I can't relax until I feel everything has been done perfectly.  I don't cope well with change and sometimes come across as being rigid and inflexible.  I often anticipate problems and try to solve them before they even occur.  No matter what I do I never feel it's good enough.  I am a perfectionist - a person who is not content with anything that is not perfect.

Striving to be better is not a bad thing.  "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence" (Vince Lombardi).  The problem comes when the quest for perfection becomes an obsession.  Trying to achieve perfection is exhausting - it's a waste of time and energy.  Constantly reaching for an unattainable goal can leave us feeling unhappy, unfulfilled, and dissatisfied.   Putting too much pressure on ourselves can cause stress and anxiety and actually limit our successes in life.  We may even miss out on other things in life while trying to be perfect. 

Instead of trying to be perfect, we should all just try to do our best.  We need to recognize when something is good enough and stop pressuring ourselves to always do more.  We have to realize we can actually gain freedom when we give up our desire to be perfect.  "The thing that is really hard and really amazing is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself" (Anna Quindlen).  Perfectionists need to know that it's okay NOT to be perfect.

"I looked in the mirror and realized I'm me ... every little crack, every chip, every dent, every little mistake.  I tried so hard to be perfect, but I'm me - and that's good enough." -Unknown

Sunday, September 2, 2012

About College Football In the South

The first Saturday of September is for many (myself and my family included) one of the most anticipated days of the year.  This Saturday marks the official beginning of a new college football season.  There are teams and fans all across the United States, but nowhere is college football more revered, more special than in the south.  This area is home to more competitive teams than any other area in the country - Georgia, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, South Carolina, Clemson.  If you aren't a fan of at least one of these something is seriously wrong with you.  Chances are you were born missing a gene, because a true love for the game isn't learned, it's something you are born with.

Thankfully between cable, satellite dishes, and pay-per-view you can find almost any game you'd like to watch somewhere on television.  Watching a game on TV, especially with a group of family and friends, is fun and exciting.  But there's nothing like actually being at a game.  The atmosphere is electric - you can feel it long before you ever even enter the stadium.  Hours before game time fans equipped with their campers, tents, grills, chairs, and coolers line the streets and fill the parking lots.  There's music, talking, decorating, and socializing going on everywhere.  The smell of the various foods being cooked on the grills is enough to make your mouth water even if you've just finished a full meal of your own.  Tailgating is as much a part of the experience as watching the game itself, and nobody knows how to tailgate better than southern fans!

If it's possible the intensity and excitement increases once you enter the stadium.  There are people everywhere, walking in all directions, yelling at each other, cheering, chanting, and waving pom-poms.  It takes a while to work your way through the crowd and find your seats.  Once you find them though, it really doesn't matter where your seats are, because when the game begins you only sit down during timeouts and halftime.  So if you don't enjoy standing then you probably shouldn't bother to go to a game! 

I've been going to college football games off and on for many years.  I've watched a lot of different teams, but the feeling is the same no matter who's playing.  I enjoy the experience now just as much as I did when I was younger.  My love of football was passed down to me through my grandfather and my father - my mother may have even contributed a little too.  Now I've passed the love of the game on to my son, and I'm sure he will in turn pass it on to his children.  It's a family tradition - one I'm happy and proud to have as a part of my life.  Yes, there's definitely something to be said about college football in the south!