“In this messy and beautiful journey, I am steadily uncovering the qualities God infused in me before I turned them into something He never intended.”
My mom likes to proudly remind me—and everyone else at the dinner table—of an award I received in grade two.
At the tender age of seven, I received a special mention in school that I would say is definitely atypical, if not downright weird.
It was not for perfect attendance. Or eating the least amount of paste. Or keeping the class pet alive.
It was for diligence.
If you’re a wee bit rusty on your definitions, diligence—according to Wikipedia—is defined as steadfast application, assiduousness and industry. It refers to the virtue of hard work, and is considered one the seven heavenly virtues.
Pretty intense for a seven-year-old.
But I was a pretty intense seven-year-old.
Over the years, my diligence morphed into something more than just a hearty work ethic. Slowly but surely, I became a high-achieving, ambitious, rigidly organized perfectionist.
I know. Yowza.
Type A, a personality theory pretty much summing up the characteristics listed above, was a term I became familiar with very early on; over and over again I was labeled as Type A by family, friends and teachers. Even people I barely knew.
And I, insecure and wanting desperately to be something, completely and fully embraced that label.
You see, I knew I could never be the prettiest or the smartest or the most talented.
But I could be the most intense. I could work the absolute hardest. I could definitely be the most competitive. And stress? Please. I could out stress you in my sleep.
Years later, when my husband expressed concern over my preoccupation with perfection, I insisted it was just part of my personality.
It was the way God made me.
But then I started having panic attacks. Not all the time. But enough that the façade I had spent years carefully constructing began to show deep cracks. Coping with day-to-day life became increasingly difficult, and those closest to me were noticing. And questioning.
I couldn’t pretend to be ok anymore.
Image credit: Tina Francis