Growing up with an imperfect early-childhood experience opened the gateway to an active inner life. This involved vivid fantasies about what my world could be once I escaped the tyranny of my youth.
When I wasn't caught in the shadows, I envisioned having great happiness, a wonderful marriage, a beautiful home and overall success personally, professionally, and relationally.
I would become a psychologist that changed the landscape of human consciousness. I would become an educator that spread the wisdom to help end suffering. I would have my own beautiful family surrounded by the glow of loving kindness and compassion. And I would not make any of the mistakes of my family of origin.
I would create a circle of friends that deeply loved and cared for one another. I would dance at every occasion and play the piano brilliantly as my creative outlet. And I would have a home by the ocean.
I imagined these things as a young girl and prayed that one day life would be sweeter. One day everyone would be kind to each other and being the punch line to some cruel joke would no longer be a possibility. Perfect love and harmony with an eye toward the greater good of all -- that was what I wished for. Too young or perhaps too damaged to find the words, I knew that these desires burned deeply in my heart of hearts.
So many lessons along the way. Having left home at 17 for college, I discovered the numbing detour of drugs, sex, and rock and roll -- which became the quick fix to the reality that had been my younger life. I put my dreams on hold as the road ahead looked excruciatingly long and daunting.
After a couple of lost years I became profoundly aware that bringing my dreams to life meant full on focus and persistence. The sometimes divine numbing agents had to go in favor of creating a life of meaning. No one and nothing would take me away from my purpose that had been envisioned.
Deeply entrenched in academics and research while waitressing long hours I stayed the course -- for years. Hardly a perfect path but I kept my eye on the deeply held dreams. These dreams morphed into the wish to be independent while doing meaningful work -- notably helping others to minimize or end their suffering. I knew intuitively that this was my calling. After all, I was already somewhat of an expert on the subject. Thus, my mission at school, work, and in my personal existence began to crystallize.
My wish to be self-sufficient sometimes translated into my inability to find meaningful relationships with men and women. Managing the emotional turmoil of failed relationships became a job of its own.
Hitting roadblocks each step of the way never got easier -- just more familiar as I continued down this road. I wondered if I had the stamina and goods to meet the academic and personal or relational challenges, especially while juggling work in order to pay for tuition.
Over time I realized that my fantasy to create a perfect life was inevitably a setup for failure. There was never going to be perfect. There was just going to be doing the best that I could in each scenario of life. I realized that nothing would ever erase the pain of the past -- that I needed to grieve the past and find it in my heart to forgive. Then, I would be able to open my eyes to recognize and to be grateful for all the gifts that were already present in my life.
The vision I held and hold for myself continues to take shape. I work daily to fortify self-compassion and awareness, living in the moment, while holding onto dreams and desires -- knowing that perfection is the destroyer of "good enough."
Each step of the journey is fraught with wins and disappointments -- whether it is about work, play, or relationships. Savoring the sweet moments of each day is the best that any of us can do. After all, all we can really count on is this moment, and making it matter.
Dr. Randy Kamen's next retreat at BlueberryFieldsMV on Martha's Vineyard will be Columbus Day Weekend. Learn to "Retrain the Brain for Positivity and Success." In this beautiful, intimate setting experience a blend of insight, positive psychology, yoga, and mind-body practices. Hiking, biking, salt water pool, magnificent beaches, fire ceremony and guest speakers. For more info contact Randy@DrRandyKamen.com
This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones called 'Beyond Perfect: How letting go of perfection has made a difference in your life' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.