Day 3 – Show week
Caveat – this is nothing to do with the American TV series. I was making up a new Little Miss character for the Mr Men/Little Miss series – just so we are clear.
I am not Little Miss Perfect. I do not have to be Little Miss Perfect. I will probably never be Little Miss Perfect and, quite frankly, who in their right mind wants to be Little Miss Perfect anyway?
I think I have always been a perfectionist. I spent hours in school, college and university studying hard and re-writing everything in a bid to achieve the very best results. I’ve written story after story then ripped them up in a fit of frustration for no other reason than I didn’t think they were good enough. I hated maths for years because I found it difficult and struggled my way through lessons – mainly because I couldn’t ever achieve the top grades. I still get frustrated if I try something and it doesn’t work or if it takes me too long to learn how to do it.
I’ve always given my all in everything that I do. Sometimes 110% of myself. That sometimes means putting in ridiculously excessive amounts of effort to achieve that far-flung lofty goal. Sometimes I drag people along with me and sometimes I stake out a lonely path where my aims get lost and misunderstood by the unlucky few who come into contact with me. To all of you – I am truly sorry.
But somewhere along the way I have forgotten that I can only give MY best. And I do not always have to be perfect. In fact do I ever really have to be perfect?
Sure it is nice when someone is wowed by something you’ve done. Yes, it is a fantastic feeling to know you’ve done everything right and created a perfect dinner, or a 100% score on an exam paper, or a flawless performance with no slip-ups or mistakes. But not when that success means you feel a like a failure every time you fail to achieve that level of perfection again. And not when you stop being able to enjoy life because you only achieved 97% instead of the 110% you were aiming for. Not when you only aim for 110% because your insecurities tell you that with anything less you are unloveable. And not when your attitude to your perceived failure starts to hurt those around you.
As this is “show week”, I’ll give you an example from my little amateur theatre world. Imagine you performed in a show last night. You gave it your all and you were perfect (unrealistic perhaps but just go with it for now). You delivered all your lines without error, you kept in time and recalled all the dance steps, your characterisation was so truthful that the audience believed you were one and the same. Flawless. But tonight you are out there again. You will give it your all – after all, you always do. But this time you are even more nervous. Why? You were victorious last night so why would you be anything less this time? Ah, there’s the rub. You have set the bar so much higher by being a success that you have further to fall this time. And now you have to be better than perfect – people will expect you to be even better now that you have proved yourself. And if you cannot meet or exceed their expectations, you will have proved that you are not worthy of their love.
But the truth is that you are only human. You are not superman/woman. You can only do what you can do. Sometimes you will forget lines. You won’t remember a dance step. You might slip on stage or have someone stand on your dress in the middle of a dance. You might not be perfect. But there might only be one or two mistakes in a performance of 2 hours+. So for 1 hour and 58 minutes you had given a stunning performance.
Isn’t it worth reminding yourself of that before you start stomping around angrily and bitterly proclaiming how annoyed you are that it went wrong? Or before you start blaiming your mistake on someone else? Isn’t worth remembering how many minutes or hours of your life have been spent rehearsing for the show? How much fun you have had on the way? That you are only doing the show because you LOVE it – you enjoy it so much that you have voluntarily given up your time to be part of this special moment? That people will love you for WHO you are and not WHAT you have done?
Tonight is the last rehearsal and then we are in performance – no going back. Time is runnning out. I’ve enjoyed most of the journey to reach this week (even if we all had to recall yesterday’s “Patience” post a few times during our tech run!) so what a waste it would be if we let a few small mistakes spoil it all. I want this show to be a great success – not just on stage. A success because we all pulled together in the same direction, because we worked as a team and because each of us picked ourselves up from our mistakes and kept getting out and giving the very best that each of us could give. And that we cared for and loved one another as the people that we are – not for what we have done or not done.
So when I forget the inevitable line at our final rehearsal tonight I am not going to verbally beat myself up over it. I will not re-play the critical moment in my head over and over in a bid to make it better. I am just going to try and accept it and move on. I am going to be Little Miss Star instead.
If that doesn’t work I’ll have to start repeating my new mantra: I do not have to be Little Miss Perfect, I do not have to be Little Miss Perfect…who knows, I might even believe it one day.