Do you strive for perfection in your life? How does perfection serve you? How does it make you feel? You may be quick to say “no way, not me, I don’t need to be perfect, how silly”. But does your house look like Chip & Joanna have just wrapped up your Fixer Upper? Are your kids miniature clones of you, dressed like little adults, perfectly manicured, tidy, trendy, and composed? What does it mean to you to present your life this way? Or rather, what would it mean if your life was a bit disheveled, disorganized, and raw? Maybe you strive for flawless skin. Not glowing, natural, happy skin but flawless. Wrinkle-free, and free of imperfections or any trace of laughter, life, or struggle. You may have lived life, but you certainly don’t need your face to show it, right? Or maybe it’s the eyelashes. You are addicted to getting those perfectly long, lush, natural looking eyelashes glued on every week or two, because they make you actually like your real “natural” self when you look in the mirror in the morning? Or is it the lips that will make you perfect? Plump, huge, raised, lips that resemble Angelina Jolie after a long night of pouting?
How about your parenting? Maybe it’s that. Maybe your unspoken goal is to be the best parent there is. You’ll run the PTA, you’ll volunteer for the book fair. Shit, you’ll volunteer to run the volunteers! You help out every week in your child’s class, and make sure you don’t miss a beat and your kid is at the top of the list, perfect.
Again, I bet you are thinking oh that is SO not me, and if it was, what’s so wrong with striving for more, for better, for being the best??
I encourage you to think about it, I mean really sit with yourself and get real. And ask yourself why? What is underneath all of the longing and drive for perfection? And I don’t mean longing and drive for better, or greatness, or true inner happiness. I mean what is behind the need for perfect? Perfect on the outside. Perfect from what other people can see. Why do we as women, keep striving for something that is painfully unattainable and inauthentic??
Why do we run out and get new breasts like they are a new hipster shirt at target? Because God forbid our breasts actually LOOK like they have nourished babies and felt the gravity that is our life. We think, maybe my husband or partner will be more attracted to me, or now that I’m single no one is going to want to see me naked with a body like this. Or really, what’s even scarier, is “I will approve of myself if I have perfect breasts. I’ll be able to look at myself in a mirror and not be ashamed of the imperfections that I see.”
All of us have thought many of these same things. I have felt this way, and still do from time to time. I dislike something about myself, and I quickly get to thinking about how I can change it. And if it wasn’t for my grave fear of needles or having something foreign implanted into my body, I just may have bit the bullet on the botox or the breasts by now. I have nursed two little humans and trust me it shows! And I get it, we go through things in life as women that change our bodies, and leave us feeling less feminine and less youthful. Things that wreak havoc on our bodies and change our physicality, which changes how we perceive ourselves and our value. We are trained to believe now, that our value is directly correlated with how superhuman we can be and how close we can resemble perfection. Super smart, super fit, super boss, super crafty, Supermom: perfect.
We stalk other people’s social media in awe and full of envy, and wonder how the hell does she do it?? She must have a secret and I’m going to find out what it is if it kills me. She’s super beautiful, flawless in fact. She barely wears any makeup- she probably wakes up like that. She has a perfect family with an adorable husband, and her kids are pictures of perfection in their own right. She’s so crafty, always creating something incredible, like she’s a real life freaking Tinkerbell. And her house?! Don’t even get me started on her house, but how in the world does she keep her kids from destroying that beautifully delicate, uber trendy and perfectly placed decor? I mean, she has a WHITE sofa! Her kids must be little angels, who float carefully around the house on little puffy white clouds. And she must be a photographer also, because the pictures she posts every day of her perfect and flawless self belong in a magazine. Speaking of her being flawless and perfect, only a super human wakes up at 5am to work out for an hour every single day, before cooking her smiling family a Pinterest-worthy breakfast, right? And it’s just so easy for her. She must know something that I don’t know. She must have found the secret.
Come on, you know you have thought these things. You don’t have to admit it to anyone publicly, but for God’s sake be straight with yourself. And I’m here to let you in on her secret, so pay close attention. That woman, the picture of perfection whom you idolize via social media or wherever she may be, she is a HOT FREAKING MESS. She is lonely, struggles with depression and not feeling good enough, she had a traumatic childhood, she sees a therapist on the regular to try and see what other people see in her. Or she thinks she’s fat, and not fit enough. Her kids, who she struggled to conceive via multiple rounds of IVF, are real kids, who act like kids, fight like kids, and make messes like kids, and she yells at them and then feels like a horrible mom. Yes she eats ice cream and chips too, and doesn’t work out as much as you think she does. She feels sad and alone a lot of the time, and longs for true friends whom she can really trust, and open up to about how the real real, is that she is barely hanging on. She is real, and she is struggling. She just doesn’t make that part of her public. Just like the rest of us she strives for perfection, because in her mind perfection equals worthiness. She simply longs for connection and deep down longs for approval.
So what if we stopped striving for perfection? What if we stopped spending our days trying to catch up to that continually evasive ideal? Instead, what if we made a commitment to ourselves and to all women like us, to start living authentically and striving for happiness? And when I say happiness I mean real happiness. Not something that looks like happiness pasted on our faces and on our instagrams. I mean the kind of happiness that is confidence, and contentment, and authenticity, and peace, and light that can only come from within, and is unique to each and every one of us.
Living authentically means not taking shit from other people. It means setting boundaries in our lives, and saying yes because we really want to say yes, and saying no because whatever it is being asked of us is not in alignment with our purpose and our goals. It means getting real, and uncomfortable, and being raw and vulnerable. It means looking into our own eyes in a mirror, and making a promise to ourselves that we will be honest and true to the woman we are looking at, and celebrate her for who she is. It means we stop making excuses for our shortfalls and our imperfections. It means loving ourselves and approving of ourselves first.
When we are really being true and authentic, we wear the eyelashes because they make us feel fancy and fun and flirty and still feel like our authentic selves with and without them. We get the breast augmentation because it allows our outside to match the fierceness and voluptuousness of our inner spirit. And neither the eyelashes, nor the breasts define us. Without these our happiness and authenticity are not sacrificed nor affected.
So there’s my challenge to you, what if?