Hi. My name is Susanna, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’m also in the middle of a purge. My sister calls this a mid-life crisis. She’s wrong. She has no idea what I’m capable of. This? This is just a simple purge, a cleansing. I’ve decided a lot of things in the house must go. The living room furniture. The dining room set and china cabinet. And almost everything in the china cabinet. The china. The champagne flutes. The tea set. The lead crystal vases. The candlestick holders. (The cake stands stay. I love my cake stands.)
I need to get all these things out of the house because none of them are me, and all of this Not-Me is suffocating me. I need to get back to me. The formal dining room set with the china cabinet. The sofa and loveseat. The china. All so sensible. So proper. So practical. This is what we’re supposed to fill our homes with when we get married. So I did.
But see, I’m not sensible nor proper nor practical. I hate being surrounded every day with these reminders that I was supposed to be sensible and proper. I grew up in a culture and family that taught me I am supposed to be practical and sensible and ladylike and proper. I was supposed to be agreeable and obedient. The problem is, I’m not. I never was. I was forced into this box of societal norms and expectations, and I was a good pleaser. I was a good perfectionist. And every now and then, when my feisty self slipped out, people would roll their eyes or yell at me; and I’d tuck my soul back in and sulk away.
I did what was expected, but inside I was angry and depressed. Because I couldn’t be me. So I grew up and went to good schools. I threw fun parties and impressed friends in pre-Pinterest days with fun creations and delicious meals. I held a good job and got married and bought a house in the suburbs. I dressed my kids well and made organic baby food. I was a Type A perfectionist.
Through the years, it became harder to keep my soul tucked in. And like a butterfly unfolding from the cocoon, I slowly unfurled and hung upside down drying my wings for a bit. And slowly started to fly. I stopped apologizing for being absurd and frequently inappropriate. I started embracing my impulsive side, my brave streak. I stopped caring about what was expected of me. I started honoring my true self. The more I cared about myself, the less I cared about a lot of other things.
So I don’t want to come home to reminders of my inauthentic self. I want to come home to me. To a dining room table that calls to me. To mismatched dining chairs that resonate with me. To improper, not sensible, completely irrational and impulsive marks of me.
And it’s amazing how much stuff we amass through the years. Slowly through the years we bring things in and tuck them into cabinets and nooks and crannies. Wine glasses, martini glasses, champagne flutes, espresso cups, serving platters, gravy boats. We rarely use many of these things, but we keep them, just in case. You never know when you’ll need it, the practical self says. It’s amazing how each of these things crowd the house and close in on your soul though. These sensible, practical things are suffocating me. I want to open up, and exhale and expand into my space.
So if we have a celebration, we may be toasting champagne out of wine glasses and coffee mugs. Because if my friends will be here, they know me. They won’t care if things aren’t proper and perfect. Because I’m neither. And that’s part of my charm.