Wednesday, March 30, 2011

On The Perfection Myth

When did it become so important to be perfect? The roomie/bestie and I talk about this allll the time. I really don’t get it. When did perfection become the goal? Why is it not okay to strive for anything less than perfection? When did it become an all or nothing? You’re perfect or you’re crap. Why?

Seems like folly to me.

Foremost because perfection is a lie.

Perfection doesn’t exist. In any form, whether it’s an accomplishment or beauty or intelligence or whatever? Perfection does not and cannot exist.

Here’s where the religious folk tell me their god is perfect and we are simply striving to be like him. Well, that’s one of my main issues with most religions. In the pursuit of perfection, we become to hard on our perceived faults and inevitably fall short. And if someone can’t fit in the mold for whatever reason, they’re screwed (or damned, as it were).

Well I say fuck that.

Perfection is not real and the pursuit of it only achieves unhappiness. We’re never happy with what we can do or have done or do know. Not that striving to learn and grow and become aren’t awesome things. They are. I’m a huge believer in life-long learning. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about not always falling short of perfection, in being happy with who you are in this moment knowing that you’ll inevitably learn and grow and change and it’s fine.

I don’t regret who I was ten years ago, but I like who I am very much today, and I can’t wait to meet who I’ll be in another ten years.

Par example, my whole life was in striving to be perfect for my mother, but I was screwed, but it would never happen. I would never be good enough if perfect was the goal. When I let go of that, I was finally able to pursue a modicum of happiness. And these past few years have been the happiest of my life.

But beyond the pressure of our parental units, we all seek perfection in one form or another.It’s ceased to be okay to be mediocre at anything; we have to want to be perfect at everything.

On the flip side, when did we become so concerned about self esteem that we can’t accept our limitations? Or teach our kids (your kids, really, since my cats think they’re pretty perfect just as they are) that it’s okay to suck at something and find something else they might be good at?

It’s okay to suck at something. It is! It so is. Or even to do something so-so. I’m a so-so cook. I really can’t play a sport that involves a ball of any kind. And I can’t draw for shit. How many times has someone, when I tell them of these things, told me not to put myself down! I’m sure you’re great at everything!

Um, no I’m not. And that’s okay. I’m not putting myself down. I’m accepting my limitations. I still celebrate my strengths, but in being honest with myself, I find a contentment with the talents I do have.
One of my fave photos, by Susanne Junker
I’m a promising photographer, a pretty kickass writer, and an aging dancer who was once a pretty promising dancer (and that’s ok). I read very quickly and have a fairly excellent memory. I sing alright, but rock at karaoke. I can't wield a bat, a cue, or a stick, but I swim with great form.

I have an eye for fashion, but don’t give two shits about spending too much money on an effing purse or pair of shoes. I have an addiction to H&M, Target, and book stores. I’m pretty good with my finances, but not so great at eating well every day.

I’d rather eat something that will dazzle my taste buds than something that is technically healthy. I have a great ass that has some cellulite. My boobs are small, but it’s nice not to have to buy sports bras. I gain weight easily in my stomach, but sometimes that makes me fell Botticelli-esque. My skin is sensitive and I have great hair.

That’s just part of me. Some great, some mediocre. And I like that! My self esteem is okay because I accept who I am and what I can and can’t do.

It’s okay. We can be happy with okay.

I don’t want my lovers to think I’m perfect or call me perfect. I’m not perfect and my flaws (if you can call them that) make me unique. And the higher the pedestal, the harder the fall.

No offense to Pink, whom I usually love, but I hate this song:

I appreciate her attempt, but think it falls short. Why is it nothing or perfect? I’ve never liked the “perfect to me” concept either. It just seems rife with condescension or something. Maybe that’s not the right word. Placation? That's not right either.

I much prefer Darcy’s line from the first Bridget Jone’s Dairy: “I like you. Just the way you are.”

He’s not saying she’s perfect. She’s obviously not. He’s not either. They both have countless faults. He likes her just the way she is. Not despite her faults, not because of them. Because she is who she is.

Isn’t that a lovely thought?

Would that we could love ourselves for the package we are and not for what we wish we were or hope we were.

24 comments mean you love me:

Nush said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

To use a cliche... it is all in the eye of the beholder. Perfection that is. Yes, there are way too many "rules" out there trying to tell people what perfection is and how to look and what to do etc etc. However I do believe that someone can be "perfect" and with that I mean perfect for you - at that time in your life. Perfect is probably the wrong word to use. Maybe unique and complementary is a better way to describe it.

I never liked the "he/she completes me"... I do not believe we are ever "complete" (maybe when we drop dead and are done here) but I rather have someone that complements me and thus... is "perfect" for me.

Anyway, we all have our flaws. It would be boring if we were all the same perfect beings. :D

Lance said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I don't know if you have a chance to read me but I've written a couple of posts over the couple of weeks about living with 4 women has made me aware of how important compliments are. My wife and 3 daughters complain about themselves- hair-height-teeth-weight-clothes you name it and I just tell them they're beautiful dozens of times a say.

Vanity is an ugly mean bitch we all have to live with. I am impressed with how comfortable you are with yourself.

Jules said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

That is so true. I constantly feel the need to be perfect. It's driving me crazy! There is no such thing as perfection!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Nush I think you're right. that perfection can be okay with some sort of caveats. I guess my issue is in the pursuit of the unattainable. ya know? love ya, woman!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Lance Lance, I apologize, but I haven't read your blog. I barely have time to read any of my subscriptions these days. I'll try to get over there.

thank you. I'm not always completely comfortable with myself, but it's a constant goal. it's hard not to be influenced by society and those around me, but I think it's so important to try! thanks so much for reading!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Jules exactly! when did we stop celebrating who we are as we are? *sigh*

Alex@LateEnough said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

My take on the God stuff: God is perfect. So we get to stop trying to be perfect. That job is taken. By God. So get over it. The best we can be is human. YAY!

And I'm a sucky photographer. And singer. But it doesn't stop me. And that is EXACTLY what I want to teach my kids. Find stuff you're good at, bad at, and love. They won't all be the same so you should do some of each.

meleah rebeccah said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Wow. This post really "hit home" for me. I love how you expressed the way you accept your limitations, rather than calling it a defeat. That's a wonderful mindset.

Oh, and I really LOVED this sentence:

"I don’t regret who I was ten years ago, but I like who I am very much today, and I can’t wait to meet who I’ll be in another ten years."

I like to think I don't have any regrets either - because whatever happened in my past, made me who I am today - and I actually LIKE who I am.

AmoebaMike said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

As for where the striving for perfection comes from, maybe because the US strives to be a meritocracy where you are rewarded for your individual successes. Just an idea...

My idea of perfection includes someone that is aware of their faults. Someone that's always trying to be a good person. Always trying to be better at what they're good at and knows what they're not good at.

Andygirl, you are perfect to me.
Alex is perfect to me.
I love you both!

The reason the two of you are such wildly popular bloggers is you're so real. You're open about life and the things about life that are less than desirable. You don't shy away from saying something just because someone might think it's gross, or weird, or offensive.

I read recently about something that made sense to me: before the internet people thought they were alone. It wasn't okay to say you were gay or atheist or whatever, because you thought you were the only one. You thought you'd be ostracized or smite-ed. In being open, you allow people to say "Hey she's just like me. And she's cool. Maybe I'm cool."

In my own life, I know what I'm not good at. Sports; art; history; literature; performance art. And I'm still trying to figure out what I'm good at. (Sidenote: I just turned 30, so I'd like to find what I'm good at soon.) My wife is perfect to me. To herself? Not at all, I'm sure. But to me she's intelligent and kind and gorgeous. We're complimentary opposites--she's the yin to my yang. And that makes the relationship perfect.

Sorry for rambling so much! :-P

daredevil229 said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

As a mom to 3 girls, I'm all too aware of what the concept of perfection can do to self-esteem. I praise my girls for their strengths and we accept our weaknesses with grace. We are on a life-long journey to find what makes each of us unique and fulfilled.

Satan said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

something we all lose sight of. perfection is unnecessary, and impossible.

Colleen said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

The perfect human is the one with faults - because that's what makes us human!

Also, my cousin is in that video. She's one of the girls in the locker room - the one with the dark hair wearing a towel.

Suniverse said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

As a perfectionist, I find myself berating myself for not doing a good enough job at stopping with the whole perfection thing.

It's a ridiculously vicious cycle.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Alex@LateEnough I think that's a great perspective and one I rarely found when I was a church goer (or Christian school student), so you get on with your bad self! hee!

I love what kind of mother you are and I love how honest you are about life. <3

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@meleah rebeccah isn't that revolutionary? liking who we are! imagine that! thanks, darlin!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@AmoebaMike loved your long comment. you're a very smart guy, Mike. and the yin to your yang? that's so awesome. and how it should be. yin and yang. male and female. light and dark. cold and warm. balance in all things. :)

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@daredevil229 you sound like a great mom. I'm sure your girls will grow up strong and unique.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Satan yes! unnecessary! that's the word I was trying to find. <3

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Colleen I like that! perfect because of faults because that's the essence of humanity. lovely.

and cool! I'll have to watch again and see!

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Suniverse I hear ya! you got yourself a catch 22. :)

Jackie T said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I have mixed feelings on this. Not so much striving for perfection. I don't like that idea at all. But what I do like and value extremely, is when people strive to be their best, and some people don't really strive that hard without an unobtainable goal. It's like that saying (something to the effect of) reach for the moon, even if you fail, you'll end up among the stars. I think there's greatness in knowing yourself, your shortcomings and such, but I think there can be goodness when striving (in moderation) to push yourself.

It's like people who are overweight. I will always struggle with my weight, I will always be on the larger size. But I nearly became obese and decided Eff that, I was going to work my ass off (quite literally). My weight still goes back and forth, but I've become healthier, I'm happier at a lower weight and I worked my butt off to get there. Some people, on the other hand, think, well, everyone in my family's overweight, this is how I've always been, might as well accept it and move on. It's a fine line I think.

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@Jackie T now I'm conflicted. maybe it has to do with one's perception of perfection. I was raised that anything less of perfection was total failure (so I was always a failure). so while I SO agree that healthy challenge is a great thing (and I like to push myself), I'm constantly fighting to feel okay if I only land among the stars. ya know?

yes, fine line. maybe it's about setting realistic goals that take a lot of work, but not goals that are impossible and make you feel like shit when you don't achieve them. yes? I don't know.

alonewithcats said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Someone once told me she liked me for my "you-ness." I thought that was a great way to put it. A wonderful compliment.

She dumped me about a week later, though. So, what does she know?

andygirl said...Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

@alonewithcats yeah I don't like her now. but that is a really sweet thing to say!

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