I go for a walk to clear my mind. I always forget that fresh air is medicine. But it’s not working, not today. jMy body still feels full of heavy fog, there’s too much space between me and anyone. Breathing is tight. I am so disappointed with myself for not going to the gym. I would feel fine now if I had. And even though I’m better at this, I still didn’t go today and I’m tired of relying on tomorrows.
I take a turn, frustrated because walking works, and then I pick up the pace and that’s when I realise that I just haven’t been walking fast enough, and suddenly I feel like running. My skin shivers, my thighs tingle, and I want to run away from the sunset, into the night, but at the same time I want to keep standing here on this street corner, drawing the silhouettes of how I feel and colouring in my analyses.
And later, after walking until I was swallowed by bright city lights. After pinching a glimpse of a flamenco dancer in a tiny burgundy bar. After mistaking many bottle caps for lucky coins, and watching a torn straw hat dance on the road like an American Beauty plastic bag. After wishing I had not failed myself so rookie-shly by wearing something nondescript, something so shamefully plain. After searching for stars and finding none, and attributing the lack of romanticism to my own shortcomings. After all this I realise that a fuckload of my unhappiness has hell-deep roots in perfectionism.
Because in my mind, I can only be worthy of love if my nails (all twenty) are always impeccably manicured. That is why I can be an hour late because I can’t find the right earrings for that outfit. And why, if I feel fat, I won’t go out at all. I need to wow the world every waking moment.
I freaked out yesterday because I hadn’t done my washing and there were no matching underwear sets. I had to wear a black bra with something black and fuchsia. Since adolescence I have torn out pages with more than one mistake– I have rewritten whole essays because I didn’t like my handwriting, even if I was only going to get a C.
My standards are crippling me. It is okay to separate books into various categories (read/havent read, all alphabetised of course) but I cannot start a new book without finishing one so maybe I won’t read for weeks. It is okay to colour-co-ordinate the closet but do you have any idea how much effort it is to put everything back? And so I am crazy-messy. Even when I polish cutlery, I have a system- order of prestige (fork, knife, spoon, teaspoon), and then always in multiples of seven. And the more aware I become, the more I realise how many quirks I have, how much need to control.
What does all this mean?
I have arrived at one major conclusion– I do not have the courage to be myself, to trust that I am enough. And I don’t know when I started believing that chipped nail polish made me worthless, or why my only options are to be the epitome of beauty or utter ugliness. I don’t know when I started believing that everyone was allowed to be naturally, beautifully flawed, except for me. But it explains my high-strung, underachieving self so fucking well. And god, maybe now I can learn how to let myself be human.