On Perfection, Being a Fraud and Finding My Voice

I am getting to know my true self better…and some things I love about me and some things not so much…

On my recent road trip to visit my sweet baby girl (granddaughter) with my daughter, we had a discussion about FaceBook. She called me out for not being authentic all the time…having a persona. I told her to unfriend me.

This conversation has haunted me for the past few days now…it stirred some feelings that I thought I had put behind me. To hear my daughter voice this…Old fears and doubts came creeping back. I must admit that for years, I felt like a fake. My Inner Mean Girl (critic) would say, ‘Today is the day they are going to find out you are a fraud!” Do you ever do this to yourself?

Jane Fonda on Oprah Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studio

I happened to catch a recent Oprah show with Jane Fonda before I left on the road trip with my daughter. “Over [age] 50, people tend to get happier and less anxious,” Jane said. “One part of wisdom is knowing what you don’t need anymore and letting it go,” she continued. “We don’t have to keep going back there. Been there, done that. I survived. I can do it again.”

Well I certainly don’t need criticism from my daughter…I can do a great job of that all by myself you know. And I don’t want to go back there and revisit the self-doubt that plagued me for years….along with the search for perfection.

Jane told Oprah that she used to struggle with the idea of perfection. It so resonated with me that I wrote it down so I could write about it later.

“It’s a toxic desire to try to be perfect,” Jane mused. “I realized later in life that the challenge is not to be perfect. It’s to be whole. You can’t be trying to be perfect and be whole. You have to know what’s wrong and say: ‘It’s okay. It’s all right.’”

This was a great reminder to think differently than we were taught!!! Getting real and being honest about our strengths as well as our weaknesses means we are living in balance and we are whole…and alive. I am not perfect and I have long since known that the search for perfection is the highest form of procrastination. It (perfection) has thwarted, postponed and paralyzed me many times in this life.

For Jane, the entire third act of life is about “becoming whole.” This sparks an aha! moment for Oprah.

“Wouldn’t it be amazing if everybody … was able to make the shift to not have your life be about being successful or getting ahead?” Oprah says. “What if our entire culture rested on, ‘How do I become more whole?’”

“It would be a completely different world,” Jane says.

Me Myself & Eye Digital Self-Portrait 11/2010

Holding my beautiful granddaughter enlarges my heart and soul. Her smile when she sees me reinforces the belief that I am complete as I am. Not perfect…but working on being whole.

Watching her face as she learns a new childhood skill, I realized that…right at this moment…I am giving birth to my second adulthood and learning new skills, just like her. This is her ‘first act’ of life. This is my ‘third act’ of life, a stage in which Jane says she found her voice.

So, dear daughter, the public persona that seems unfamiliar to you is the emerging, evolving and growing me while getting to know myself better. She is a person you may not be able to see as your Mother…but as a flawed and imperfect woman searching for her real and authentic voice.

This is part of my life’s journey to wholeness…this 3 act play I have been gifted with. I don’t have to keep going back to Act 1 or Act 2. Been there, done that. I survived and I can do it again. And I love that about me!!!

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