a combination of strong and lost

Finish thesis and get my master’s degree? Check!

Feel proud and accomplished and over the moon? In theory, yes.

But I don’t.

The problem with perfectionism is you’re never truly done. Every time you finish a goal, it feels unreal. Even if you’ve spent years working toward it. ESPECIALLY then.

I feel a little like I’m 21 all over again. I’m mature enough not to run away to Europe and quit my job on a whim this time — but I’m still stuck in a melodramatic, narcissistic headspin about what happens next. Grad school was an idealistic, maybe-someday, kind of goal that I jumped into after very casually considering it. Those who knew me probably weren’t surprised. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of lady with a knack for emotional, illogical decision-making. I prefer big challenges to slow-and-steady end results.

But I’ve decided my next lofty goal is to change that. Live smaller. Stop feeling bored. Run every other day. Blog every few days. Grocery shop every week. Keep traveling every month. Enjoy Seattle all the time. Be a grown-up. Appreciate what I already have.

And if something falls into my lap, consider it. Try not to dive headfirst into it. Think about the implications. Wonder about the possibilities. Make a pros and cons list. Above all else, remember that checking things off an intangible life resume is not the same as actually experiencing these things.

Or, more likely, I’ll decide to run a marathon while power-racing through Trader Joe’s on that first grown-up shopping trip next week. Because finishing 26.2 miles in five hours is a whole lot quicker than sitting down and learning how to stop competing with myself.

* Title inspired by Jimmy Eat World, “Stop.”

7 thoughts on “a combination of strong and lost

  1. Ehhh me too, Cari. It’s called “Type A.” I’m never good enough, big enough, fast enough. I get bored at the drop of a hat and have to join everything, start something, get up and go somewhere…
    Look on the bright side: it’s far better to be an overachiever than an underachiever.
    And CONGRATS!! on the masters!

  2. Congratulations Cari, what an amazing accomplishment! And it’s so true, a perfectionist’s work is never done. Plus I get depressed if I don’t have enough going on. So get a hold of me and let’s enjoy Seattle together now that you have more free time! 🙂

  3. I would add that, of course it all depends on how you look at something. For example, instead of seeing this source of frustration as a quest for perfectionism, you could rather see it as an approach to master something in life. In that case you must always remember that “Mastery is an asymptote”! (remember 10th grade geometry?)

    To truly call yourself a master at something is to know that you will never become one; however, it is the journey along with leading a disciplined life that becomes the reward. As well as the never-ending knowledge that today you are better, smarter, faster, more loving, (insert goal here), than yesterday, and the promise that tomorrow holds in possibly topping today.

    Having said that….I’m right there with you…lol!

  4. 1. That is a huge accomplishment. You worked hard and should scream from the rooftops how bad ass you are for finishing that while working a full time job and not being a super lame friend. I don’t know how you did it?! (I had a hard time spelling accomplishment right there)
    2. Your first grown up grocery shopping trip should include ingredients to make a nice soup. obvs.
    3. We need to have a celebration re-do. That was really, really lame last time.

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