I had just come home from having a painful medical procedure when the phone rang. To my astonishment, it was a woman from a local radio station telling me I just won tickets to dinner and a show. I had completely forgotten about entering the contest. What a wonderful surprise! I thanked her several times. I was ecstatic! I was due for some fun, and what could be better than a free night out on the town?

Such wonderful memories it brought back This show wasn’t just any show—it was one that I had really wanted to go to, but thought the opportunity had passed me by. I didn’t realize they were still performing in my area. A live musical, oh such wonderful memories this brings back of the good old days when my dear Mother z’l and I would go off to musicals. We loved doing this so much. The dancers were amazing, light as air on their feet and there was always an orchestra that played so brilliantly.

I had accepted the tickets fully aware of the date, day and time. Now comes the moment of truth for me: It was on a Friday evening. I knew I could not have the dinner as it would not be kosher, but thought maybe I could at least see the show. Could I go through with these plans? No one would know. This would be my secret.

I find it difficult at times to keep Shabbat. There are so many rules but I really want to observe Shabbat because it is important to me. So much so that it hurts me to the core of my being. You can’t do this and you can’t do that. Instead of feeling happy on Friday afternoon as Shabbat approaches I feel a knot in the pit of my stomach, concerned if I can measure up. I have this internal struggle going on. I find myself trying to make bargains with the One above: Okay, G‑d, because I did several mitzvahs this week, then You will forgive me if I drive. I love to light the Sabbath candles, but I fear I could fall asleep and, G‑d forbid, a fire could start. I will make up for it, G‑d, by going to synagogue and not talking while the rabbi speaks.

I was invited to a friend’s home for Shabbat. We had a delicious meal, conversation and benched. I had arrived late so only a few of us were left at the table. A discussion began and I became so upset that I had to leave. The truth was that I felt I was not on their level of Judaism, so therefore I was not good enough. I felt threatened. I was angry with me. Not them. Was there a reason I should have felt the way I did? No, but I am guilty of comparing myself to everyone. Trying to do everything right all at once.

Well, as they say, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I have trouble really applying the wisdom of this saying to my own life. I have this outrageous thought that I should be as perfect as Sarah in the Torah. Such high expectations I set for me? Rabbis tell me I have come a long way on my journey as a baal teshuva, someone who choose to live a Torah observant life when not raised in such a lifestyle. Maybe I am exactly where I am supposed to be? The perfectionist within just isn’t so sure. She questions until I make myself miserable, and those around me—and for what? No one is judging me as harshly as I am judging myself.

I knew what I needed to do My wonderful learning partner and an incredible friend try to help me to understand that I should not expect so much out of myself all at once. They tell me to work on taking on one challenge at a time. Now this is reasonable. It is time I stick to this plan.

I had decided a while back that I no longer wished to go out on a Friday evening, as I once did, for pleasure with friends. With this in mind I knew what I needed to do.

After struggling with my inner self for a few hours, I called back the woman at the radio station to refuse the dinner and tickets to the show. For a moment I was sad, but much more I felt an enormous sense of relief. I remembered the saying "This above all: To your own self be true."