So, in a fit of New Year/New habit insanity, I bought a papaya...on January, 31 2010. No Frills was a wasteland (seriously, in the event of some hideous plague or zombie invasion, I suggest doing your looting somewhere other than the Dufferin Mall. That place will be picked over by midnight, day of), and so in lieu of red pepper or cremini mushrooms or, like, apples, all of which were long gone, I bought a pineapple and a papaya and a mango. These aren't fruits I usually engage with, but I was like, "Hey, it's a new year! New calendar! New fruits!"
It all seemed so simple. But yesterday, I threw that papaya away. It had turned white and furry and if a plague were to infect the inner 416, that papaya would have been a liability, not an asset. In all likelihood, it probably would have been the cause. But I felt a sadness at my little lost papaya, because, instead of being a fruit (one that is, by most accounts, pretty awful-tasting), it was a sort of symbol. Potential had been wasted, on my watch.
I'm a perfectionist, which is awesome to brag about in job interviews, but then you actually have to deal with it. Perfectionism takes many forms, but I'm one of those people who hates doing things unless it's totally perfect. I don't mean that I would throw temper tantrums if my Thanksgiving arts and crafts hand-turkey was deformed; I would refuse the project altogether, transforming it in my head to something beneath me and therefore not worth doing. Instead of running the risk of doing it wrong - and therefore looking foolish - I would sit on the sidelines, refusing the participate. This might have been cute in second grade soccer practice, where my nonparticipation took the form of dreamy cloud-gazing and massive stomachaches, but it's less adorable when it makes me want to quit jobs for not being "the perfect fit" or when I feel like my (vast!) talent is being squandered on mundane things like "learning how to do the job."
So much wasted potential. I mean, it's not all bad - I've avoided dating some schmucks because I tend to hold out for awesome boyfriends instead of folks that, like, don't make me laugh or have ridiculous tattoos, and it means I don't really buy clothes because I have a hard time with things that are new (which explains my fondness for American Apparel, because everything matches and everything's plain), but it also means I eat the same damn thing at the same damn restaurants, that I go to the same bars, that I eat the same sandwiches, that I have the same haircut, and that I re-read the same books. I'm not adventurous, because I'm freaked out by newness.
It's one of those traits that drives me crazy about myself, though; I've walked away from jobs that were perfectly me because I didn't get along with my boss, and it's bitten me in the ass (job-hunting blows!). It also makes me look wistfully at other people's lives - people like my friend Mark, who can pick up and move across the country at the drop of a hat, with zero fear and a bring-it-on attitude that, frankly speaking, would make me poop my pants in terror. Or the hipster mommyblog I've been reading, the author of which got married when she was nineteen. Bold moves, yo.
I wish I was that fearless, but I get stuck in ruts. Habits, little anxieties, protective voodoo spells designed to ward off uncomfortable feelings - trying new things sometimes ends up with moldering papayas on my kitchen table, and my perfectionist craziness just hates that.
But then again: perfection is boring. Trying new things is good for you. Shake up my soul! Papayas will be bought again, along with maybe a dragonfruit or a tomatillo. New jobs will be procured and eventually left, new dishes will be eaten and new living arrangements will be attempted. I need to try, and remember that the opposite of "perfect" isn't "failure:" there are so many things to learn from the world, if I can only climb out of my little ruts.