52 Thoughts | Leaving Perfect Behind

Leaving Perfect Behind

I’m done chasing flawless. I. Am. Flawed.  I don’t want perfect. And this comes from a lifelong pursuit of getting straight As, delivering 110%, trying to keep a perfect house, be a perfect daughter, or perfect employee, or perfect mom, or perfect wife.

Perfect isn’t worth chasing.

So how do we balance being self aware enough to know improvement is valuable, but not so critical of ourselves that we think we’ll never be good enough? How do we decide what needs to get better and what’s good just the way it is?

It’s all about the source.

First we have our own self perceived flaws -  a mix of physical and personal points for improvement. I wish my face was smoother or my teeth straighter, or took criticism better. I wish I had twice the hours in the day to cross everything off my to do list. I could spend half that time writing out everything I could be better at. I’m probably a lot harder on myself than someone else would be* so I need to step back from time to time and realize that a) no one is looking that closely b) the physical stuff isn’t as important as what’s inside and c) being the best version of myself changes each day. Some days I’ll feel like a million bucks and other days I’ll be like.. three cents, but that doesn’t effect my overall value or place in the world.

Then there’s popular culture which tells us to be this, be that, buy this, buy that, do this do that. Commercials say “embrace your flaws” while showing what look like perfect women! Many of you commented last week that you too feel like social media has an effect on what it looks like to have it all or to be perfect. And it’s not easy when what we see isn’t really a reflection of the world around us, but tries to make us believe it is. It’s such a mixed message. One reader brilliantly put it like this:

I think that there is a myth - made worse by Pinterest/social media/blogs of having it all if you’re a woman.  You can work full time at a stellar job, look great while doing it, come home to a house that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog and whip up a four course meal from scratch for your adorable children and then go to bed, write in your journal and have sex with your husband. The reality is you’re tired, hate your job but have to work, usually run your nylons before leaving the house, feel guilty leaving your child at daycare and rush home to prepare a meal of chicken nuggets while you eat cereal standing up [and then] feel guilty you’re not giving it your all to your family.

Being perfect isn’t realistic.

What I take most seriously is the advice I get from people that I know love and care for me - like my husband, parents or close friends. When they bring up something I need to work on, I know it’s important. I know they’d never say something to hurt me, so if it comes up, it’s worth improving. Maybe it’s cooling my temper or working on tact or finally getting professional help for anxiety or post partum depression. I` know they aren’t pointing out these things to make me feel bad about myself - on the contrary - it’s  because they love me and want the best for me.

*Lastly, there’s the nasty noise of the Internet. I’m really hesitant to say anything on this, because I don’t want to put fuel on the fire, but man, girls can be really really cruel online. I’m not talking critical, I’m not talking rude, I’m talking the kind of hate that can lead some people to believe the worst about themselves. You guys probably haven’t seen much of this stuff around here since comments went away and because I try to delete it on social media, but woof. It’s not pretty. I’ve been made fun of online long enough to laugh at it now, but there was a time in my life that it haunted me. It hurt me. And I know this kind of bullying has hurt others too. What is it about a computer screen that unleashes the meanest part of other people? It took me a long time to realize this kind of feedback isn’t feedback at all. It’s a sliver of someone else’s hurt and I know enough to know it’s not about me. That’s hard to realize at first because feels so personal and so real. It’s mixed in with all of the really wonderful and kind things you hear online, so sometimes it slips between the cracks. I have a long way to go to really, truly ignore it all, but I think I have the wisdom to know this stuff is not worth listening to. 

None of us are perfect. I know I’m not even close. We could all be better at different parts of our lives. But we’re also wonderful despite our flaws. Life would be miserable if we only defined ourselves by them. We just have to do our best, even when that changes from minute to minute, hour by hour or day to day.

I’m a work in progress. I don’t have this all figured out. But I’m working on it.

We all deserve to give ourselves some slack, listen to those we love, and do the things that make us happy. Leave the rest the behind. Being perfect isn’t a life goal worth chasing.

52 Thoughts is a year long series to explore topics that matter to the women who read this blog -  the things you might talk about with your best friend or wish you could discuss more often.