Striving for perfection is a pointless race with yourself.
Perfection is all about perception; and perceptions are different for everyone.
So, what does this mean?
It means that there is no such thing as true “perfection.” It’s make believe. A mirage. The crest of a mountain that none of us can reach while we are stuck on this plateau of real life. Usually, the only person who expects you to be perfect is you… and, if there is someone else in your life who expects you to be “perfect” in every realm, you should run like hell in the other direction.
The craziest part? Imperfection is okay. It’s normal. In fact, some of my favorite things about the people I love are the things that others might describe as their imperfections. A laugh that’s a tad too loud; A crooked smile; A sense of humor that’s slightly off-kilter: we can so easily embrace these things in others, but it can feel nearly unbearable to accept our own shortcomings.
So, what do we do? We idolize the illusion. We strive to be like celebrities who, in the moment, seem to have everything, but who will likely end up being arrested for some unglamorous crime in a few years (you know, after falling out of the spotlight, eleven failed marriages, and a slight mental breakdown). We compare ourselves to that Facebook friend from high school who is now a doctor, goes on exotic trips with a devastatingly attractive partner, bakes, and cooks… all while maintaining perfect abs (Comfort yourself: they probably hate each other and she MUST be a Photoshop guru. Right?). Our masochistic curiosity encourages us to look at pictures of former loves with their new others and analyze the tiniest details (yes, the classic “Her? Really?”). We stare in the mirror and call ourselves fat when our size 4 jeans are too tight.
I completely own that I can be guilty of all of the above at times. Sometimes, I just can’t kick that America-centric urge to be (or appear to be) as perfect as possible. I feel the pressure to to excel in every facet of my life: I want to progress in my career and academics; have an exciting social life; cook delicious, organic cuisine; be in a freakishly happy relationship; workout everyday; travel the world; dress stylishly; and have an immaculate apartment… all while looking like a Victoria’s Secret model, of course.
When I fail at any one of those things (which is constantly, because I’m human), I am meaner to myself than I am to anyone else.
So, I am going to propose a novel idea, and I think you should join me. (NOTE: When I say “novel” I, of course, mean “utterly cliché”): I am going to start being nicer to myself.
I am going to begin by owning my insecurities and, on the flip side, acknowledging that there are some things about me that are, in fact, pretty great. I’ll be honest: this is something that isn’t easy for me. I know it doesn’t seem like it to some people because I can be a chronic babbler; I am shy. These insecurities are things that I’ve carried with me for a long time, and voicing them to the world (cyber or otherwise) is difficult for me:
Hi, I’m Kate. I am extremely uncoordinated and, yet, can somehow play sports decently well. I cannot sing, play instruments, draw, or (gracefully) dance… but I can lose myself in art like a child and I am always a good time at a dance party. My body betrays me when I get nervous- which is all too frequently- and sometimes I turn bright red and even start to shake. But I know my nerves well. I know I don’t get butterflies easily… when I do, I know the person who gives them to me is someone special. I babble… but my ramblings usually have some sort of point. My friends will tell you that I’m chronically single because I’m too picky, but really, I just hate drama and I’d rather be alone than be tied down to someone who brings too much of it, or who bores me. And I know I am way happier than I ever would be if I settled for someone who did. My voice kind of sounds like a 14-year-old valley girl, but I can surprise people with my wit. I can get really anxious when I drive, but my ridiculously random taste in music allows me to be a good DJ when someone else takes the wheel. Math really stresses me out, but I love learning big words. And, finally, I can barely cook… but I am GREAT at eating.
There. Done. I think the saddest part about that little exercise was that it was easier for me to own the bad than it was to acknowledge the good. Thanks, society!
In short: chances are someone out there appreciates the very thing about you that you think holds you back. In fact, it is likely that it’s your failure to acknowledge your strengths that is holding you down… not those pesky “weaknesses” you keep fixating on.
Self-love. Try it. Live it. If I can try to let go, you can too.