Perfection is Impossible and That’s Okay
Guest Post by: Carly Puch, the host of Consciously Clueless
My journey, like many folks, simultaneously makes no sense and all the sense in the world. There can be an assumption, at least on the internet, folks who are environmentally conscious or practice veganism were born that way. That’s far from my own experience growing up in Grand Marais.
I was born and raised in Grand Marais, Minnesota. A small town surrounded by some of the most beautiful wilderness you’ve ever seen, a fact I didn’t appreciate until later in life. My upbringing was full of time spent outside, often hunting or fishing. Both activities no longer align with how I live my life now but it’s important to be honest about these parts of ourselves, so we don’t keep perpetuating the idea of perfection.
I’ve spent much of my life chasing perfection, in school, athletics, or anything else I could throw myself into. I now joke that I’m a recovering perfectionist – although it isn’t much of a joke. Although as I was weaving my way through higher education still chasing perfection, my studies led me to work that would serve others. My privilege kept me wildly unaware of many injustices in the world.
For years I worked as an advocate for survivors of sexual and dating violence. It was intense but rewarding work. Simultaneously, while working as an advocate, I started to deepen my own yoga practice. A practice I wanted to learn to share with the trauma survivors I was serving as I quickly realized the trauma stored in the body will need a different way to release above just talking.
While I had always been interested in how to stay healthy, I was rapidly learning new ways of nourishing myself during this time. My introduction to veganism came at a young age, I just had no interest in it. My childhood best friend went vegetarian when she was 4 and was vegan by 13. While the seed was planted early it would take some time for any semblance of blooming.
The impetus to thinking more critically about my diet came after finding out I was lactose intolerant. I like to point this out because for many, going vegan is a much more virtuous endeavor. But for me, it was all about starting to feel better in my body. I lived for years trying to “manage” my lactose intolerance, spoiler alert, that’s not possible!
The problem just kept getting worse, so I dove into all things diet and health. Everything I researched kept circling back to a plant-based diet. I dove in, felt wildly healthier, and never looked back. It was then I started to learn about all the larger implications of the food we eat. It became increasingly clear to me that the best thing I could do for my health, the planet, and the animals was to go vegan. That decision catapulted me into the world I find myself in now.
After learning the realities of the animal agriculture industry, the dominos continued to fall. My passion for the environment grew exponentially. I started to see the intersections of environmental justice with every other social justice issue – racism, classism, sexism, sexual assault, mental health – and so much more.
I also noticed that so much of the rhetoric online was pushing for folks to be the perfect environmentalist. And as a recovering perfectionist, I fell right into the trap. Instantly, I was obsessed with reducing my waste to nothing, getting rid of anything in my house that was toxic and thought everyone in my life should follow suit. I drove myself senseless trying to single-handedly solve the climate crisis.
It took some time to come down from that pattern as I started to feel how unsustainable it was for me, I was miserable. At a time when politics were becoming particularly hectic in the United States, I was reminded back to an Intro to Sociology class I took during my first year of ungraduated college – it’s all about systematic injustice.
You can’t be perfect in a world set up to systematically help you fail. Does that mean it’s hopeless? I truly don’t believe so or I wouldn’t still be doing the work I’m doing. It takes an understanding of what we can do as individuals and how we can push for systematic change.
The beginning of the pandemic hit me hard. I was dealing with lots of personal loss, and moving through trauma, my depression was worsening, and things got dark. Along with therapy, supportive people in my life, piercing my nose and buying a bus to convert into a tiny home – growing my business pulled me through.
What that journey evolved to is where I find myself now. I host a podcast, Consciously Clueless, that helps folks who want to learn about how to live a healthier life, how to live more sustainably, and how to take their everyday actions and make them work for them and the planet. I know firsthand that sometimes it might feel like you’ve got this figured out and other times you probably feel lost.
That’s why I created the podcast. My intention was to create a space for people that started where I did – with limited knowledge and lots of passion. Together, listeners and I learn how to live happier, healthier lives without the need to be perfect, and always allowing space for a little cluelessness on this journey to living a more conscious life.
I also have taken that energy to become a Conscious Living Coach. I have combined training in plant-based nutrition, health coaching, meditation, and yoga to create a holistic coaching experience that blends the connection to your own health and environmental impact. I help folks develop a healthier mind, body, and approach to living.
I like helping people learn how to take care of themselves AND the world. It’s possible to live a more sustainable life without being miserable. You can be vegan without only eating tofu. You can live a life that is easier on the planet. After many years of pushing for perfection in how I lived my life, I now realize that perfection is impossible, and that’s okay. I want to help folks get there WITHOUT all the stress.
Now I can’t be deceitful, there will be some stress. From a young age, I felt how stress and suffering mental health can take you out of the game of life. Another current passion of mine is teaching yoga and mindfulness to school-aged children. I hope by providing better-coping skills for stress and anxiety we can keep young folks active and ready to change the world.
This work is tough yet beautiful. This work is infuriating yet hopeful. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I would love to connect more with anyone reading!
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