I placed the rod in its holder, jumped down, fluffed the curtain into place, grabbed my drill off the coffee table, and stepped back to take a look. Turning in a slow circle, I admired the room and smiled. It was finally done. After four months of sixty hour weeks, the rental house was complete. I couldn’t find another piece of decor to shift, pillow to fluff, or surface to buff.
It was beautiful.
“OH MY GOD! I did it! I actually did it!” I yelled.
I twirled in a circle, laughing, before collapsing on the living room couch to enjoy the moment. It was a moment I wouldn’t have imagined the previous summer when my grandma had decided to sell her home, and I had decided to buy it.
That summer, I’d stood in this very same place– intimidated. There were piles of old furniture waiting to be donated and cupboards hanging from hinges. The stained carpet was shadowed by peeling wallpaper. A collapsed deck sagged outside the sliding doors and popcorn ceilings stretched above me. Every single room needed attention.
That summer, the entire project rested on my shoulders. With no design or remodel experience, I would direct a crew of strangers and subcontractors from my home in Montana, half a country away. I would make every decision, complete every purchase, and coordinate every delivery. And when the time came, I would fly in to assemble every piece of furniture that arrived and break down every box.
That summer, I’d been scared and filled with doubt. My inner perfectionist was terrified.
But the house mattered more than my fear.
It had been my home away from home for over 30 years. The place I returned to in order to recharge my soul. It was, in fact, the place where I started my journey towards bravery with one twirl on a public beach.
That summer, as I stood overwhelmed, I saw how important that brave little twirl was. It had prepared me for the opportunity that stretched before me.
Prior to this journey of living brave rather than perfect, the fear of not executing a flawless remodel would have kept me from buying the house. Instead, I would have watched it slip into another family’s hands and grieved the hole it left behind.
But as I stood, intimidated, on the stained living room carpet, I reminded myself that while the size of the project was overwhelming, the pieces were manageable. I could tackle them one at a time and reach out to friends and colleagues when I needed help. For years, I had been practicing how to take action despite my fear, and this project would test those skills.
As summer spilled into fall and the months passed, the house came together little by little. Until one day I reached this perfect moment. Sitting in the silence the crew left behind when they packed up their tools and pulled out of the driveway, my hands covered in bandaids from furniture assembly mishaps and every muscle aching, I was content. Proud. In awe of what I had done.
Everything looked perfect.
I had honored the house I loved by bringing it to the best version it could be. And in the process, I had done the same for myself. For through the remodel, I learned that combining bravery with a dash of my perfectionism unlocked a new version of myself. One I hadn’t considered.
And perhaps that’s the real take-away.
Perfectionism unchecked is stifling, limiting, and at times crushing. It kept me living on the sidelines for a good portion of my life. But removing it altogether isn’t necessary either. Instead, by mixing the two, using one to keep the other in check, I can achieve truly magical things. Things far greater than I dreamed possible.
And I can’t wait to see where that realization takes me.