Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

mental health

On getting rid of perfection

How to Fold the Perfect Fitted Sheet

How to Make the Perfect Cookie

How to Scramble Eggs Perfectly

How to Host the Perfect Party

How to Write the Perfect Blog Post

How to Craft the Perfect Blog Title

These are examples of actual pins that have come across my Pinterest feed. Often. As in every day. And quite frankly, I can’t handle the word “perfect” any more. 

I’m not sure when the pressure to be perfect set in. I’m even less sure as to when everyone started thinking that they had the solution on how to be perfect. Because I don’t even know what perfect means. It’s such a subjective word. What’s perfect for you isn’t perfect for me and vice versa. So how are so many people all of a sudden authorities on being perfect? How can they tell me what to do? 

And why is it so important to be perfect? Why can’t it be good enough just to be good enough? Just to try your best? 

I don’t know about you, but when I see that word, perfect, I don’t see something to strive for. I don’t see success and hard work and a beautiful, awe inspiring end result.

I see pressure. 

I see a standard I can’t achieve.

I see never having self-acceptance, never being satisfied, and never being happy.

I don’t like living like that. It’s too hard. It’s too emotionally draining.

So I’m done with perfect. And you should be, too. 

Because perfection isn’t that important.

No, what’s important is trying your hardest to get through. To do what you can within your limits and your standards. 

The standards you set for yourself. No matter how high or low they might be to someone else. 

Because when you strive for perfection as set by societal normal or blogger edicts or Buzzfeed decrees, it begets depression, intimidation, sadness, and frustration. 

But when you strive to do your best according to your morals, values, and goals, even if it results in imperfection according to everyone else, you get satisfaction, happiness, productivity, and gratitude. 

I’m aiming for those. Because I’d rather be happy with burned cookies than be sad with perfect ones.

Life is what happens inside the imperfections. 

And I’m completely fine with that.

imperfect

 

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The struggle with enough

Lately I’ve been struggling with the word “enough”. Not as in “I don’t think I’ve read enough books” or “I haven’t watched enough Netflix” or “I haven’t had enough tea today” but more in the sense of:

I don’t work hard enough on my blog. 

My topics aren’t focused enough.

My writing isn’t creative enough.

The idea for my book isn’t interesting enough.

My platform numbers aren’t high enough to make an agent interested in me.

I’m not organized enough.

My house isn’t clean enough or nice enough to have people over.

I don’t play with my dogs enough.

I don’t play with my daughter enough.

I’m not nice enough to strangers.

I don’t call my grandmother enough.

I’m not friendly enough.

I’m not generous enough, and I certainly don’t volunteer enough.

I haven’t lost enough weight.

I’m not talented enough.

I’m not motivated enough.

I don’t try hard enough.

I’m not enough.

The list goes on.

It’s all completely negative. And I can’t make it stop. 

Just when I get to a place where things are going well, my creativity is flowing, I’m content with what I have (and don’t have), I’m comfortable and confident with my choices and where I’m going, something (I don’t know if it’s my depression or lack of self-confidence or too much time on social media and buying into lifestyle construction or what) gets ahold of me and talks me out of everything positive thought I have and puts me right back in the place where I can’t get off the couch and I think I’ll never amount to anything or achieve the level of success I want and convinces me I’d be better off just quitting everything so I stop trying.

I hate that I think, and subsequently act, like this. I hate that this pattern is part of my life. I know, in my head, that it holds me back. I’m pretty sure it’s rooted in some sort of fear and there’s a self-fulfilling prophecy tucked in there somewhere, too.

It’s a fun little package. 

It’s one thing to deal with someone else telling you that you suck or stomping on your dream. It’s another thing to deal with the internal chatter. Because those voices are there with you all. The. Time. They’re loud and annoying and they’re difficult to ignore. Like really obnoxious sports fans cheering for the wrong team. 

And if you’ve ever experienced those types of fans, you want to punch them right in the face.

That’s how I feel about the negative committee in my head.

It’s not that I don’t want it to change. I try some of the techniques in my cousin’s book. I think back to some of the techniques I learned in therapy (despite the fact that my therapist was horrible and, on some levels, made my issues worse) and attempt to apply them. I read blog posts and articles on how to alter negative thinking. I try to stop comparing myself to others. I stay away from social media. 

And none of it works. 

I’m still trying to figure out why.

It might be that I won’t let myself think differently. It might be that I simply can’t do it. Old habits and all. 

They’re kind of a bitch.

I know that everyone deals with self-doubt at one point. And for many, they take that self-doubt, channel it, and use it to make or do something great. 

I want to be that person.

I want to go to bed each night and say “I did enough today” and really believe it.

I want to tell myself I am enough and really believe it.

Because I know, in my heart, that whole list of “I’m nots” is a lie. 

Now I need my head to believe it.

Do any of you struggle with the same issues? What works for you when you get mired in this line of thinking?

 

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A few words on depression, suicide, celebrities, and everyone else

I hadn’t planned on writing a post today but I have a few things I need to say.

In case you haven’t seen or heard the news, actor Robin Williams died yesterday, and the cause of death was suicide. It’s a tragic, horrible situation and so many are mourning the loss of an incredible and talented performer on social media, in the news, or in private. And that’s fine. You do what you need to do to make sense of it.

For me, though, it’s a bit different. It is frustrating to me, someone who battles depression every day, to see this hyper focus on mental illness and suicide simply because a celebrity dies as a result. Depression is an every day battle for millions of people, and every day, many of them take their lives. Yet no one floods their Twitter or Facebook feeds with pictures, memes or quotes from those every day, yet equally special, people. I get that perhaps people are taken aback with this because there is a cultural perception that celebrities are invincible. They have money, fame, and everything we place value on. They bring joy and happiness to others. So how can they be depressed?

That, to me, highlights just how misinterpreted depression is. Depression is a mental illness, caused by internal factors, not external ones. No matter how incredible your life may seem on the outside, depression wreaks havoc on your insides. Mentally, emotionally, physically. Depression skews your perception of everything and it feels impossible to make anyone understand what’s going on (for a great depiction, check out Allie Brosch’s comics on depression. She says is better than I ever could). Depression makes you feel alone and isolated. Depression takes away all the things normal people take for granted.

Depression is more than just sadness.

Robin Williams’s influence on pop culture is undeniable. Some of his movies are among the best ever, and are some of my personal favorites, and it is no doubt because of the talent he leant to those movies. His talent was unique. His mental illness was not.

And for me, that’s the tragic part.

We, as a society, need to take the stigma out of mental illness and start making it okay for people to be open about their struggles. And those of us who have it need to break the barriers and make sure we talk about it (besides Allie Brosch, two others who are fantastically open about their depression are Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) and Joe Pantoliano’s book. There’s also some wonderful TED talks on depression, including this one from a comic). We need to let others know they’re not alone. We need to encourage those contemplating suicide to seek professional help rather than inundate them with glib sayings about how happiness is a choice and it will all be better. We need to generate a better understanding of the disease.

We must support, and remember, everyone who is fighting against depression and other mental illnesses.

Not just the celebrities.

10 simple ways to suck at life

I’m not one to push products but today I’m going to. You see, I’ve devised a very handy guide that will give you a set of 10 very specific instructions on how to do epically fail at anything or everything you choose.   And the best part about this guide is that it’s 100% free. You don’t have to spend a single cent to learn these well kept secrets.

But you might be thinking Why? Why do you need this completely free guide? Well, I’ll tell you. You need it because staying stuck in one place, depressed and miserable sounds like something you’d like to do. You need it because having goals just seems like too much work, being successful and accomplished is overrated, and you prefer to sit back, dreaming of the things you’d do if only you could. You need it because you want to figure out why your life isn’t turning out the way you wanted and you just can’t understand why. You need it because you need to figure out what you’re doing wrong.  You need it because maybe you don’t want to suck at life and this will tell you exactly what not to.

How’s that for a great deal?  (You don’t have to say it. I know.)

So, without any further ado, I give you the absolutely free, completely informative, Daily Money Shot’s Simple Guide to Sucking at Life:

how to fail

Overwhelmed and eliminating it, day 5: At home

homeHome is a funny place. Home is where we’re supposed to go to escape from the stress of friends, work, and the outside world in general. But home can also be a place of stress and feeling overwhelmed if you’re not careful. That’s why it’s important to do what we can to eliminate it as much as possible when you’re inside the 4 walls of your home.

While it’s not possible to control everything that causes anxiety and overwhelmedness (I’m starting to think I need to petition to make this a word), it is possible to take some action:

Have a budget. This goes without saying. One of the biggest causes for being overwhelmed is money. Bills, savings, long term planning, day to day expenses—money is part of our day, every day, whether we like it or not. And there is just so much to do! However, trying to do it all at once is frustrating so I recommend, like almost every other personal finance writer that has ever existed, have a budget. Having a budget will eliminate a good deal of your sense of being overwhelmed. You won’t have to figure out how much to pay the credit card company or decided what you have for groceries or put off that necessary haircut or contribute to savings. You’ll already know because you put it all on paper. If you don’t know where to start, Dave Ramsey’s website has a great free tool to get you started.

Having a budget sounds like a lot of work and it is. But the outcome is worth the effort, and your stress level will thank you.

Create a meal plan. I was not blessed with the ability to look at raw ingredients and whip up a meal at a moment’s notice. I know this because, for a while, I tried. I would go to the supermarket, buy what I wanted, and hope that meals would come out of it. They did not. And I would get overwhelmed because I knew I had to feed my family but I couldn’t figure out what so I would maybe freak out a little, perhaps throw in a bit of yelling, and then declare I was not cooking and we needed to order in (like the dad in A Christmas Story. “Everybody, upstairs. Get dressed. We are going out to eat”). Needless to say, it wrecked our budget.

So I decided that I needed to meal plan. And while meal planning does help keep our grocery budget under control, it mainly gives me a sense of calm regarding what to make for dinner. I don’t get overwhelmed at the thought of having to cobble something together that would probably taste terrible and my freak outs are kept to a minimum. Everyone appreciates that.

Organize. We’ve already discussed why it’s important to get organized and methods to do so I’m not going to rehash that. However, I do want to add a bit. Getting organized at home makes everything run much more smoothly and it prevents those “everything is going crazy all at once and I need a break or I’m going to build a blanket cocoon and stay in there with my wine and only my dog is allowed to visit me” moments (although, admittedly, that does sound like a pretty good day). Having your home organized means you’ll get out the door on time. Having your home organized means you won’t have to buy a birthday present 20 minutes before the birthday party nor will you have to feverishly search for wrapping paper. Having your home organized means you get free time back because keys don’t get lost, backpacks aren’t misplaced, and bills are paid on time (you can also accomplish this by automating your bills, something I highly, highly recommend). Having your home organized means you can do activities as a family in peace instead of chaos (controlled chaos is okay. Actual chaos, not so much).

In fact, being organized is probably the best thing you can do for yourself. It doesn’t have to be a Pinterest worthy organizational system. It just has to be something that works for you and your family. (Note: lists are my go-to organizational tool. Actually, I love lists so much I have a whole post planned discussing how lists can keep you from feeling overwhelmed).

Whether you live in a household of 1 or 10, there’s opportunity to become overwhelmed. Stressors come with every circumstance and it’s important to find a way to combat that.

Readers, what do you do in your household to keep from feeling overwhelmed?