“If you’re going to the hair salon, you have to wash your hair first” — this is what I grew up being told.
Yet, from a young age, I always tended to do the opposite. Going to get a blow out? I walked in with a top knot of mangled curls and day six hair. Going to get a manicure? My nails were chipped and if it’d been a really tough week, bitten down to the core.
The encouragement to always project perfection and leave all baggage behind close doors didn’t seem to stop me from walking in as I was in those moments, but it did get to me just enough to make me feel uncomfortable in my skin whenever I did. I think it has the power to stop so many of us from getting help, pursuing a job, or going on that date because all we hear is that we have to be good enough to live up to the moment instead of learning that moments are malleable. Our lives are daily proof that moments know how to bend and fold so that they can meet us exactly where we are.
This logic shouldn’t be lost when it comes to therapy. To get the help we need, when we need it, we need to believe that there is no magical checklist that when completed gifts us a golden ticket to finally be ready for therapy. You don’t need to wash your hair, untangle your emotions, or Acetone your way to a blank slate in order to benefit from therapy.
Opposite to what we’ve been taught, perfectionism isn’t the requirement for therapy, it’s the biggest mountain.
I decided to go to therapy a few months before my senior year of college. I was on Medicaid so even though I made the appointment in September 2013, I didn’t get to meet my therapist until the end of December. The reasons I stuck with therapy aren’t the reasons I started therapy. I started therapy because I’d looked at my life, laid out a 1-year plan, and felt like therapy made sense. I knew that grief around my mom’s death was especially triggered by bigger life events and since I was graduating at the end of that school year, it felt like the right time to learn new ways of coping. I saw it as my opportunity to outsmart my grief.
Doesn’t that sound so put together? I was three steps ahead of my grief and mental health that even with a months longs wait, I was still seemingly being proactive. Every…