It is in our human nature to focus on what is missing. We struggle to find the missing puzzle pieces of our lives, wholeheartedly believing that once we get our hands on them, we will be made whole and complete.
Especially in New York, the competitive land geared toward success and perfection, people easily become fixated on both materialistic, status-symbol puzzle pieces to plug into their lives- whether that be the latest It bag or a promotion at prestigious company- all thinking happiness lives at the end of the tunnel.
Two summers ago, I remember reading a piece in the New York Times that discussed the growing issue of a reluctance towards conflict resolution, along with a lack of “frustration tolerance” particularly in young adults- this quoted term defined as a resistance to accept that not everything is aligned to their liking.
If one element is missing or something goes slightly rogue of the meticulously crafted plan, panic ensues and all hell breaks loose. We immediately jump to an escape plan and want to start from scratch in order to create perfection.
I used to and still occasionally suffer from this immensely- it is painstakingly difficult for me to show anyone anything that I am working on unless I deem it properly presentable- which typically means the final product. Show someone a messy draft of ideas? HA. I would panic-strickenly tear down all my work and hide it away rather than leave evidence that I did something that wasn’t perfectly polished. Heaven forbid that my life or work wasn't picture-perfect 24/7.
This same phenomenon applies to self-image, both external and internal.
Speaking as a someone whose external image directly corresponds to my livelihood that I’ve chosen, it’s difficult to not feel the pressure sometimes to appear “perfect." After all, my body is my tool, just as a voice is to a singer.
It’s easy to focus on all the flaws. My scars from all the skating injuries. My stretch marks from when my body rapidly changed after I stopped training 8 hours a day and actually started to eat more than 800 calories a day. My chubby baby cheeks that have held on with an iron grip to this day with no intention of letting go. My muscular legs that I inherited from my mother, who frequently reminds me that I should be grateful because I'll never fly away in a tornado thanks to them (thanks ma)... And all the other internal things I struggle with- patience, indecisiveness, to name a few.
But what about all the things I AM?
My scars from skating remind me of the toughness I developed from having gone through those experiences. My stretch marks remind me that I have come a long way since my hellish struggles with disordered eating and learning how to be healthy again. My strong, muscular legs let me jump on boxes two-thirds my height, squat 1.7x my body weight, and explore this beautiful world. And internal flaws? I am impatient because I constantly want to learn more and push myself toward progress no matter what I'm doing. I am indecisive because I choose to see both sides to every situation and don't see everything clear-cut black and white so easily.
Challenge yourself to start thinking through this lens. Focus on the positive affirmative. All the things you are, rather than what you aren’t. Be appreciative of all the things you have, instead of fixating on the puzzle pieces missing.
If all of the puzzle pieces are found and the puzzle is finished, what's the fun in that? Remember all the things you are that make you, well, you. After all, who can forget that those words of wise old Dr. Seuss- “There is no one alive who is YOUer than YOU.”