Here I am again. Just a few days until my post is due, and I still have a thousand and one thoughts buzzing in my head – and not a word written down. Nothing seems to be interesting enough, captivating enough, good enough. There is an image of the perfect article in my head, so nicely written, proofread, and it is stalling me down.
I used to get sad discovering typos in e-mails I had written or Facebook posts I had shared. People would see how imperfect I am. Bad marks in elementary school were a tragedy. Approximately three years ago, I thought of writing a book on how to keep all spheres of life under control when you are working 50+ hours a week. I was still fresh to the labor market after almost a year of waiting for the documents to be ready, and oh did I want to get all the jobs at once. The plot would have been simple: the main character of the book (me) would find a not-so-magical way to keep the apartment clean, work out regularly, cook dinner, and work two and a half jobs. It seemed as easy as creating your Instagram bio: a hard-working woman who loves cooking, reading books, jogging, and tidying up. So successful, so perfect. The reality was different. A year ago, I came across the first twenty-ish pages of the book and added just one word: IMPOSSIBLE.
I am glad the experiment failed. Losing was (and still is) hard for me, but it finally helped me understand the reason behind such a strong sense of failure: losing means I am not perfect. However, it is impossible to be perfect in everything you do every day. Impossible - and not necessary. In most cases, good enough is enough. These things have been said so many times, yet, in my case, I needed to come to those ideas myself to finally let some things go, understand myself better, and just breathe.
It would have been perfect if I could function normally while getting five hours of sleep every night, but what my body needs is eight and a half. I would love my apartment to be clean (and I have read quite a few books on how to do that, for example, Love the Home You Have by Melissa Michaels or The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark), but relatively clean is good enough. I would love to be more environmentally conscious: to create more things in my kitchen instead of buying those packaged, shop at the farmers' market more frequently, etc., etc., but it requires energy, time, and money – resources that are not always available.
On the bright side, having cut down the hours I work and adjusted my expectations of myself, I am now a much happier person. I can check books out and actually read them. Tiny Habits and Organized Enough had some ideas I started implementing right away – and I can see the results. I enjoyed Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead. It might appear too grim to some: there isn't much action and a lot of reflections on death. However, it provides a good insight on what a person dealing with anxiety and depression goes through in their mind. My Broken Language, a memoir by Quiara Alegría Hudes, is about finding your place in this world, about women, about happy moments and tragedies. A Clockwork Orange was amazing because of Nadsat - the fictional slang created by the author, Anthony Burgess. When I start overthinking life, I remind myself of two books: On Being 40(ish) and Growing Old. And then I take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and smile to this perfectly imperfect world.
-Zarina Alfers is a Materials Handling Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.