I’m a perfectionist, which means if there’s a flaw or a hair out of place, you best believe I’ve noticed it and it’s driving me insane. In fact, it’s all I can see or focus on. That slight bump or scratch is giving me a serious case of tunnel vision and everything else falls away.
It’s just me and that little flaw.
Someone once told me to take a step back and admire the bigger picture. Look at all of the beauty surrounding the little speck that’s out of the ordinary, and you’ll truly see how wonderfully everything fits together. It’s all perfect and beautiful and serene; that little defect isn’t an issue at all, in fact it contributes to the overall wonder of everything.
That advice is optimistic and motivational. But what if it’s not true at all?
What if the exact opposite of it is true?
When you’re pressed up against the window, looking out into a beautiful sunset, take a step back. Do you see the cracks and chips in the glass? Are you noticing the ugly shadows created by the disappearing sun? Did you feel the glass cut your hand while you were busy staring at the sun?
Pay attention. The details matter.
I can usually manage a healthy sense of optimism. Even when I have days where I feel down, I can typically find something to cheer myself up, whether it’s rolling down the window and feeling the wind tousle my hair or admiring the way the natural light softens up the neighbourhood. I notice the beauty, I hear the music, I feel the joy.
But this week I started feeling like the little moments of happiness are all that I’ve got. They’re dazzling and bright, but they end. Once it all falls away, I don’t really have anything substantial left.
I took a step back. I didn’t like what I saw.
I don’t feel like I have any meaningful relationships. I’ve drifted apart from so many people for reasons I still haven’t figured out and I don’t know how to get back. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to really connect with someone. Not just romantically, but on a basic friendship level. I miss getting together with a group of friends and laughing about cheesy jokes or telling each other secrets. I miss having someone in my corner to cheer me on, make me laugh, or listen to my ideas. I miss making impulsive plans to get together and do nothing. I miss long drives with the radio off because there’s just so much to say.
The friends and people I have in my life are great, but the connection just isn’t there. They’re speaking a language I can’t understand, and at this point, I don’t even feel like trying. Being by myself is less lonely than being stuck in a group of people that make me feel completely isolated.
Is it my fault? Maybe. I have friends (sort of). I have family. I have more to be grateful for than most in the world. But somehow, all I can think about is this feeling. The feeling of stepping back and realizing that you’ve got nothing worth holding onto. Nothing worth rescuing in a fire. No one to run to when life gets overwhelming.
Well, for now at least.
That’s the thing about stepping back. Once you’ve peeled yourself away from the tiny, alluring parts of the view, you notice the horizon. You’ll be enchanted by what’s to come.
If you don’t like what you see when you step back, hell, take a another step.
Like towns from the window of an airplane, everything looks better from farther away.