I often suffer from Perfect or Not Participating Syndrome. I guess that would be PNPS?
People afflicted with this syndrome need to be at the top, they need to be the best. Everything needs to look just so and be the way they visualize it, in order for them to participate. This leads to missing out on a whole slew of things in life. These people also avoid experiences or situations they feel do not “suit” them based on some jacked up idea of who they are and their self set limits.
I’m in recovery, but here are some examples of what the syndrome can do. A person may not wear shorts because her legs are not the way she envisions them. She may not try an activity, join a class, or go to a particular gym because she feels awkward and doesn’t look as cute in workout clothes. This person decides before even opening up the box what’s inside. This person avoids, makes excuses and isn’t present.
A few years ago, I looked at a picture of myself on vacation. It was a great vacation and I was happy, but when I looked at the picture I saw heavy, unhealthy and unhappy. I looked older than my years. Staring at that picture I decided somewhere along the way I’d given up on myself. It happens to a lot of women, and men for that matter, so this isn’t a boo hoo, poor me post. The picture was proof it was time to do something about it. I needed to make better choices and start moving my little squishy bod around.
This is easier said than done when you suffer from PNPS. How could I possibly go to a gym? It was a guarantee I would not be the best person at the gym or anywhere near perfect. I tried to come up with a plan, but it all felt overwhelming and uphill so I had a good cry.
I realized I needed to start somewhere…anywhere. I put some badass songs on my iPod, bought a smutty book and decided I’d get on the treadmill. I would stay in my head, in my own little world. Even if in the beginning I had to hide there, that’s what I would do as long as I was on that treadmill and sweating. I told myself I only needed to commit to that step.
I walked into my gym every day after work, got dressed in a bathroom stall, put on my headphones and started my music before I even left the bathroom. I didn’t look at anyone else and I made a beeline for the treadmill. I often wonder if anyone noticed me and thought I was nuts, but as you battle PNPS, you come to learn most people are doing their own thing, dealing with their own goals and struggles, and they…well, they don’t care.
I listened to my music, read and sweat for an hour and a half. The people around me didn’t matter. For the longest time I didn’t look at them because what if they were thinner than I was or in better shape? What if I was in last place? I did this gym ritual every day. I started climbing hills on the treadmill and I went through books like crazy. My body began thanking me. It was sore, but it was happy. My skin was sweaty and glowing and something changed in me. I came back to life.
I added Pilates twice a week and started working on my muscles. I moved from the treadmill to hiking for a year and now I take spin class every day except Sunday. I’m not the most in shape woman in the class. Have you been to a spin class? Those women are insane.
At some point I started looking up from my book and looking around. All different kinds of people, all working on themselves and working out for a multitude of reasons. No two people the same and no clear winner or specimen of perfection. Although, there was this woman running next to me the other day that was pretty damn close.
I’m in the middle, I’ll probably always be in the middle. I’ve discovered that there’s peace there. Less pressure, and so much joy in just participating. When my mind is normal and not off in PNPS land, it is clear that most of us are in the middle somewhere in our lives, works in progress.
My thoughts from the laundry room. Don’t Wear Those Silly Masks to Bed.