Historically, apologizing has not come easily to me. I used to be very concerned with being right. More than that, I was completely wrapped up and entangled in the dangerous web of perfectionism. I really thought that if I failed to be right all the time and perfect all the time, the fragile walls of my world would come crashing down around me. I was convinced that if I wasn’t perfect, non one would love me. And if I ever admitted my imperfections and acknowledged that I made a mistake, then I wouldn’t even know myself. I couldn’t have been further from the truth.
No one likes a “perfect” person. For one thing, there’s no such thing. So when I was trying to appear perfect, I just came off as unrelatable and inauthentic. I eventually came to realize that people in my life wanted me to let them in and see who I really was, imperfections and all. They had no interest in the illusion of perfection I was attempting to maintain, but me as a real person had a lot to offer.
I also learned that people actually appreciated me more when I admitted my human frailties. When I messed up and hurt someone I cared about, I learned to apologize. I realized that I could be “right” and push people away or I could apologize when I needed to and have closer relationships in my life. It is still something I struggle with, and the past few weeks I was put to the test.
About a week ago, I found out that I had done some things that had hurt some friends of mine. When I dug deep within myself I realized that I had certainly not acted as my best self. There were some things I needed to apologize for. I cried, I prayed, and I gave up being “right” and apologized.
It was like a breath of fresh air. A weight off my chest. There’s a subtle personal power in admitting that you are wrong and taking responsibility for who and how you are being in life. But the greatest reward is the relationships that grow from my willingness to humble myself and apologize. And I am thankful for friends that care about me enough to let me know when I’ve hurt them, so that I can make amends and grow from the experience.
God gave us weaknesses so that we might be humble and so that our weaknesses might be made into strengths. I know this is true, and for that I am grateful.
My High School Graduation (2001)
Last night I went to my ten year high school reunion, and it has put me in a reflective mood. It was fun (though somewhat strange) to see everyone after ten years apart. I was impressed by how friendly everyone was and how genuinely happy everyone seemed to reconnect with everyone. It has me thinking though about my seventeen year old self and who I thought I’d become verus who I’ve actually become.
When I was seventeen I had a lot of expectations for myself and everyone. The other day on Twitter I mentioned that I was “Trying not to compare myself to the me my 17 year old self thought I’d be by now.” My friend (@nerdgoddess) replied, “Don’t worry. I don’t think any of us live up to our teenage expectations.” I think this must be true. But I sure had a lot of them at that age. At seventeen, I thought that by ten years later I’d have made my first film, have a husband or at least a serious boyfriend, and be living on my own. None of these predictions were accurate.
At first I was feeling kind of bummed about what my seventeen year old self would have thought of me now, but on further reflection I’m really rather happy with where my life is at as unpredictable as the last ten years have been. It hasn’t all been great; don’t get me wrong. No one predicts or wants to think they are going to end up with a chronic illness. But there have also been so many wonderful things that have come of the last ten years of my life.
When I was seventeen, I was headed to the University of Southern California to study film. I wanted to be a director. Or at least I thought I did. And although I’m sure I could have found happiness pursuing that line of work, my real love is for the written word – specifically the novel. At seventeen, I never would have considered that I’d have it in me to write a whole rough draft of a novel by the age of twenty-seven or that I would be doing freelance graphic and web design. Or that I’d be designing Alternate Reality Games.
When I was seventeen, I was in the middle of a serious depression. My perfectionism consumed my life and made me miserable. Thanks to meds and therapy and a lot of hard work, I have found so much happiness in the last several years. And that is something I certainly didn’t expect at the time. In fact, at the time I didn’t even know what it was to be happy.
When I was seventeen, I was essentially an agnostic Jew searching for some meaning and connection to something larger. I NEVER would have dreamed in a million years that I would have found it in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But a little over a year ago I did. And becoming Mormon has brought me a level of joy, comfort, and perspective on life I never anticipated was possible.
The last ten years have been a roller-coaster ride that my seventeen year old self never would have imagined. Sometimes the sudden drops and loops make me want to throw up, but all in all I wouldn’t get off the ride for anything.