“Perfect, Flaws and All” ~ Wentworth Miller

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As I discussed in my last blogpost, this video of Wentworth Miller’s Q & A session really had an impact on me.  Through his words, you felt the depth of his suffering, but also the wisdom he has garnered from it.  Many of his words allowed me to connect, reflect, and re-assess my own mental health journey.  In the last blogpost, I talked about “being your own best friend,” and in this blogpost, I wanted to talk about his ideas of perfection.

In Wentworth’s session, he discussed his insecurities about doing a public speaking event. How he felt anxious about being perfect, his desire to please, and the pressure to speak beautifully. To silence these anxieties, he said that he constantly reminds himself that all of that doesn’t matter and that coming there that day in his state, was “perfect, flaws and all.” Perfection is a double-ended sword.  It can push us to excellence, but looking for it can bring us down to our knees.  Moreover, he talked about this need for balance in life and how it was like making small adjustments, like walking on a tightrope so you don’t fall off.

I felt like when I was listening to him that I was listening to a master’s lecture on living life with anxiety and depression.  I, on the other hand, felt like an undergraduate student.  I was amazed at how he was able to gather all his thoughts into these concise nuggets of wisdom. Furthermore, I kept on thinking “that was exactly what I’ve been thinking, but had no idea how to express.”

In my inner dialogue, that “tightrope” has been called the “grey area.”  Over the years, I have discovered that it is always the best place to be and my own form of balance.  Of course, I will always be a work in progress, but it has allowed me to realize that not everything has to be perfect. There is a lot of joy and sanity to be found in living the “B+” life.  Will I still strive for perfection?  Of course, but definitely not in everything I do.  Furthermore, I have found that even if things don’t go perfectly, I often enjoy them just the same and others will have no idea that it wasn’t perfection.  Plus, sometimes, you might even end up getting something more out of what you might deem as your so-called mistakes.  Everything has it’s price, and I feel that seeking perfection in everything in your life is not worth it if it means compensating your mental and physical health.

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Being Your Own Best Friend

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You might know the actor Wentworth Miller as the main lead of Prison Break.  I have, admittedly, never seen Prison Break, but have only recently gotten acquainted with him after watching one his interviews posted by B. G. from her blog Getting Through Anxiety.  I have loved reading her blog and also the information she shares.  After watching and re-watching this interview, it has allowed me to reflect and re-assess how I deal with my anxiety in positive way.

There was so much that I connected to and learnt from listening to Wentworth that I couldn’t even possibly cover in one blogpost.  I think the one “aha” moment (sorry that is the only phrase that came to my mind) was when he discussed how he dealt with his depression.  He said he had to “start the work of being [his] best friend.” He then talked how he felt he had been a supportive friend to others in crisis (e.g., listening, being supportive), and the importance of using that same way to talk to yourself similarly in a “loving and supportive” way.

This nugget of a thought really got me thinking of about self-love and forgiving yourself.  Something I struggle with immensely.  I feel that this year as a whole I have improved a lot in accepting my mental illness.  Instead of just being upset at myself for not being able to do a lot of “normal” things or blaming the illness from hindering me from leading a regular life, I have also begun to accept it and also see that it has given me some “gifts” that I have never anticipated.  This has included a closer relationship to my family, friends, and even colleagues, a greater understanding of gratitude, and the ability to use my experience to help others.

As someone with mental illness, it is often easy to berate yourself with words you would never imagine speaking aloud to friends in crisis.  It is super easy to spiral into self-loathing dialogue instead of “being our best friend” and using words of encouragement.  I had never really thought about that way until watching his interview.  Words are a powerful form of ammunition.  It has been a work in progress, but I feel like this year I am starting to learn that sometimes I can say “good work”, “you made it through”, “try it again”, “you gave it your all” etc.  Ultimately, the best shoulder to lean on is your own.