Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Turn the page (and chill out)

After signing up for a library card, goal-setting, and choosing books on goodreads, I decided to take a month off of reading.

Makes sense... 

I had a new routine. I was adapting very well. I would read during my entire commute to work. This was my new norm and it would always set a wonderful tone for my day. Finally: a plus side to taking the bus! 

 This is not to say that my favourite mornings are anything but when Graham drives me to work: I arrive at the office, my make-up ruined from laughing and crying (which are synonymous... right). 

All that to say, I was happy to have rekindled my passion for novels. My writing had suffered as a result of not having read the past few years.

Everything about my renewed hobby made me feel inspired!

My best friends, close colleagues, and favourite bloggers are all readers, and they do so without exception. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to learn about new authors, discuss vibrant characters, and debate plot lines and twists, all while enjoying the company of others.

Some background:

Despite the upcoming wedding, I was able to stay grounded (and reasonably sane) for most of the winter. I didn't have much time to think about it. My best friend was fighting cancer and inspiring the world in the process. She had chemo and a major surgery to get through. Graham and I wished for nothing more than her health and happiness (and to go on a variety of strange dates, the three of us, in the process). We love you Sammy. 

Come Spring, things were looking up. My warrior of a best friend was strong as ever. All wedding vendors were secure.

So why did I stop reading in April? What was I thinking?

Oh I was thinking. Just too much, and about the wrong thing. 

I have spent the past month completely besotted with our upcoming wedding (and all of the details that surround it). Come end of April, I found myself drunk. With decisions required, outstanding contracts, and a spiralling Visa bill...

I began to spend each and every bus ride home drafting unnecessary e-mails, re-visiting - or at times, irresponsibly ignoring (no happy medium here) - our online banking, browsing mindlessly through wedding boards on Pinterest...

I found myself so completely overpowered (by myself) that even the smallest of decisions felt overwhelming to me. This is inevitable when you have over-thought, over-researched and worried your way through an entire month. 

This past weekend, while struggling to approach a wedding-related decision, a close friend said to me:
It's strange that you're struggling! Because you normally want your way. 
This hurt my feelings. A lot. So much so that I didn't say a word.

The truth is, it took a consolidated effort - one that extended several years - for me to become more laid back. A planner. A go-getter. That's me! Not achieving success was something I struggled with a great deal while growing up. Things not going as planned meant that I had failed. I was imperfect.

Bla bla bla. You've heard my story.

It took a long time for me to chill out. Go with the flow. Roll with the punches as they say.

I hate to admit it, but I had to practice.

So when someone close to me described me as wanting my way, and invariably so (okay, I added the invariable part), I kind of lost my sh*t (internally).

I have worked hard to not only accept, but to love, living a B+ life.

And to let one day in our future, one that is fiercely and unduly over-planned, take away from my ability to be flexible and cool:
Simmer down self.
(That's right. I said "simmer down"...)

I am so lucky. I am so blessed in my life. I have an intensely romantic, good-humoured fiancé. I have an incredible family. My friends (particularly my girls!) are saints for putting up with my scatterbrained, overly apologetic April self. And the funniest part of all:
I don't actually care what this wedding looks like.
It's true! I really, really don't. Everyone who knows me knows firsthand how crazy I am about Graham. And how sacred I believe our wedding will be, regardless of the details that surround it. The only reason I have become obsessive - even dizzy! - is because:
There happens to be something to be dizzy about.
That's my life as a perfectionist. Give me details, options, an array of decisions to be made, and a long waiting period (hello...? Wedding!). And you can watch my eyes start to glaze over. I might as well be staring into empty oblivion. Because I can no longer function.

When I plan a dinner party, I become similarly overwhelmed. My perfectionism takes over: Try ten new recipes! Make your own cocktails syrups! Stock your bar cart. What about desert? Decorate the house accordingly (because that's necessary...).

Am I looking to impress my guests? Of course not. They love me. They're simple. They would be happy if I ordered pizza (they may even prefer it). But as a result of my personality, if there is planning to be done and a creative outlet to be explored, I do it all on imaginary steroids. I take things too far. I always have.

I guess that's the crazy part about all of this... Ultimately, I don't care what people think of the end result. It's living with myself during the planning process that I struggle with. There, in the middle of research and decision-making, I find discomfort.

This happened to me regularly during University. The longer I had to write a paper, the more I would struggle. I would get lost in the research.

I do much better on tight deadlines. Seriously.

Thankfully, when it comes to a dinner party or a research paper, I'm normally only preparing for a few days in advance (you know... living on the fly...). Inevitably, the day will arrive. This comforts me. My conscious mind can process this. I am able to reason with my inner-perfectionist:
Try two recipes instead of ten. You don't have that much time.  
But this wedding has always felt so far away.

More power to you if you planned your wedding two years in advance. I could never do this. Maybe I would chill out during the second year. But I doubt it.
I would almost certainly convince Graham to elope in the woods after 9 months. 
This process has been especially difficult because I didn't expect the stress. I love details. For our engagement session, everything came together so naturally. The couple nights before, we chose a few vintage trinkets in our home, pulled a record from our collection, thrifted some lace, etc. It was fun and easy. I guess I expected our wedding planning process to feel the same: natural. But there has been so much time. And as we've learned, for me, sometimes time = opportunity to get lost in the details.

In a nutshell, I have slowly come to the following realization: I quit reading to allow my inner-perfectionist to foster. It didn't feel intentional at the time, but it probably was.

As I was in the middle of reading a boring book, I thought to myself: this is time that could be better spent brainstorming. Alas, I spent two months fatiguing myself. Only to land back exactly where I was:
A happy place, where my perfectionism has laryngitis.
I share this because I hope my closest friends will learn from my foolishness. Particularly the perfectionists that are both indecisive and detailed. Like myself, you may find yourself on the verge of flying off the handle when faced with yet another decision.

But calm down. It doesn't matter. You don't even care! There is no perfect way to do this. Take a break. Enjoy the process.

Today, on my bus ride home, I pulled out a novel. I felt the greatest sense of calm. Now, I plan on spending my entire evening curled up reading The Girl on The Train.

I also declare myself free of wedding planning related madness!

I'll show up on the day of. See you then.

Bridesmaids, you're on your own!

Jk. Sort of.

To learning to enjoy (survive... I'm kidding!) the process.