Present Over Perfect
If you’re looking for a new book to read that will inspire you, this is it. Also, this is going to be heavier on the spiritual side just to warn any of those who aren’t into that. (No judgement, just love)
Shauna’s book is about how she went from living what looked on the outside to be a perfect life, to a life that was messier but much more fulfilling from all angles. It’s like talking to a friend who you haven’t seen in a while and she’s telling you about this new way of living that she’s found.
As a writer, wife and mother of two young boys, Shauna had what she was told to be the perfect career and the perfect family life. When I first started reading, I thought “what do I have in common with a woman in her late thirties with two kids?”. But honestly a lot of what she said hit me right in the heart.
In fact, it hit me in the heart so hard that camping this past weekend I talked to Matt about something that I don’t normally talk with to people easily or openly which is my faith. I believe that it is an incredibly personal thing for people, and have never wanted others to feel like I was pushing my faith onto them. But this book made me evaluate how I value myself and how present I am in my current life.
That being said, I tried to leave out a lot of the “God” parts of this book, but I really think that you don’t have to be very religious to get something from this book. In fact I think anyone who believes in a higher power will get something from this book.
I know that on the blog and social media it can seem like I have this whole adulting thing figured out, and how nice it must be to have a fiance and great family and friends and a nice apartment in a great city like Boston. But I have struggled with my own moments of self-doubt, so bad that I sometimes thought that it would swallow me whole.
The pain & mess
I have spent a lot of my time running away from my own thoughts. By constantly being busy or losing myself in Netflix I am able to run away from what I was actually feeling. Overwhelmed, unsure or self-conscious I cover it up by talking about my feelings with someone (not diving too deep), and then ignoring them by doing anything but sitting in silence.
Since we’ve moved into together Matt made the comment that I can’t just sit and do nothing. I have to be doing something with my hands or other wise.
This passage made me realize what I was actually doing. I didn’t want to wake up at 35 and realize that I spent my entire 20’s running away from my own feelings.
The past couple of years I wanted to be better than I was in high school. I wanted to lose baby fat, be at the top of my class, have a great social life, be seen as someone who wasn’t just a studious nerd. I also desperately wanted to be successful, to be noticed at a young age for being great in my profession. I wanted to be able to do everything and make it look effortless. Isn’t that what your twenties is supposed to look like?
So I did what I thought I was supposed to do, but last year after getting engaged, I realized life is not linear. You don’t go from point A to B to C to D. It’s all over the place. Different things happen at different times for different people and that is okay.
Some people haven’t figured that out yet though. The weird and negative comments coming from people that I thought were my friends was really hurtful because they thought I had it all together when really it was just one part. A wonderful part yes, but just one part.
I was told that since I was engaged I had to act a certain way. People would make comments about me going out to bars or parties, and I even got judged for having male friends that hadn’t met my fiancé. But for Matt it was completely different. People thought it was romantic and sweet that he had found the person that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.
Why were the expectations so different? Why did getting engaged as a woman mean that I had to slow down and stop going out? I realized this spring that there was no way that everyone was going to understand our decision to get married young, or my lifestyle choices. So I stopped caring. I focused on me and my loved ones and that helped so much! I have not been very good at this, but I try not to focus on the negative rather look at how things make me feel. My parents do a great job in reminding and teaching me to look at things in perspective.
This passage above made me realize that we’re all different. No one is policing our lives, it’s about being happy. If people love you, they’ll be happy for you!
This is me
I’m not a few things. I love to be surrounded by people, but also really need quiet time. I can be loud and boisterous, right in the middle of the action, but also quiet and on the edge of things. I might surprise you with my knowledge of something, but also have no idea about math.
Now I’m working on being me unapologetically. Admitting when I’m wrong yes, but I’m done saying sorry for things I don’t need to be sorry about. My friends definitely help me with that!
Our support systems
Shauna talks about how she used to say “must be nice” to her friends who seemed to have it better than her. But she realized that it was just envy. She said that now in her group of friends she realizes “your mess is my mess”
My group of friends is like that. I have called and texted them when I felt like I was falling apart. (This group includes my parents). They call me when they are having a rough time too. There’s no judgement, there’s no condescending advice. We just listen, and then we give our thoughts.
These are the people that we need to be real and raw with. We need to hold each other up and be grateful to each other.
Being more than “perfect”
Instead of trying to do everything right and always trying to look perfect, I’m going to let it be messy. I’m going to be okay with not cleaning everyday, or even having a cleaning schedule.
With grace, I’m going to be okay with a chipped nail and having popcorn for dinner.
With love I’m going to put down my phone and watch a couple more sunsets with my best friend.
With connection I’m going to call my friends and family more.
With meaning I’m going to be honest with you on my blog so we all feel like we aren’t alone.
With spirit I’m going to take more time to sit in the silence and connect with God in order to be more me.
Looking inside instead of outside
The same God who made puppies, the mountains, the oceans and flowers decided the world needed you. You don’t need to look outside for any justification.
Your career, relationships, family or financial status does not determine your worth.God made you, your soul is worthy, you are full of worth.
Present Over Perfect
So together, let’s work on being present in our lives for ourselves and our loved ones. Let’s stop trying to be and look perfect because there really isn’t something such as perfect.
I encourage all of you to read this. Curl up somewhere with the actual book. Makes notes, highlight and cover it in your thoughts. Take some time to stop rushing through life. You may not have kids or be out of your 20’s. But why not learn from someone else, and just slow down?
How have you slowed down? Do you ever feel like you need to take some time? Have you ever experienced anything like that?
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