The other day I was talking with a friend who is a bit of a perfectionist.
Actually, she’s a raging perfectionist. She would openly admit this.
And we were talking about how life is such a challenge sometimes.
I was reminded of this picture I recently saw on a friend’s Facebook page:
We went back to talking, and my friend told me she recently asked her 81-year-old mother-in-law what the secret to happiness (or just survival) was.
And her mother-in-law told her, You have to stop trying to be perfect.
And my friend was like, I think she’s right!
And I was like, Well HOLY SHIT, Woman, I could have told you that last week, and I’m nowhere near 80 years old!
I was floored that my friend had not yet realized this.
And then it occurred to me that maybe my friend wasn’t alone. That there are still many women (and men) who feel this (self-imposed) pressure to be perfect.
So I thought I’d try to smack some sense into those of you who are still breaking your backs in an effort to obtain the unobtainable.
Perfection is not just overrated.
Okay. Let me clarify.
You can probably do some things perfectly. You could maybe maintain a perfect house. (Why you would spend the time necessary to do that, I will never understand, but whatever floats your boat).
But perfection across the board is impossible.
In college, you could maybe maintain a perfect grade point average. But in doing so, you lose out on the perfect social life or the perfect relationship or the perfect level of stress and mental and emotional health.
When I look at the aspects of my life that are the most important to me, there is my health, my kids, and my marriage.
And there is no way to achieve perfection in any of those areas!
If you devote a lot of time and effort toward the quest for the “perfect” body, then something else is gonna give. Your relationships are going to suffer. Or the level of cleanliness in your home will. Or your mental health will.
Besides, what is the “perfect body” or the “perfect marriage” or the “perfect mother” anyway?
We look at people who are seemingly perfect on the outside (or on Facebook).
We look at the impeccably dressed woman or the mom with 7% body fat or the mom with perfectly dressed children, and we think to ourselves, she’s got her shit together.
But she’s not as perfect as she outwardly appears.
Take, for instance, the ultimate example of perfection.
She’s loaded and attractive and successful and can do pretty much anything.
She seems pretty perfect.
From the outside.
She can cook the perfect soufflé. She can maintain a perfect home and make the perfect bed and build shit with her own hands.
But she couldn’t maintain the perfect marriage. And her daughter wrote a book detailing how she was basically a shitty mom.
And she also went to fucking jail.
So scratch that name of the list of candidates for perfection.
While we’re at it, cross all the rest of them off, too.
In fact, just crumple the paper up and throw it directly into the fireplace.
No one is perfect.
It’s the imperfection that makes things interesting. And bearable.
If everything was perfect, nothing would ever be funny.
Could you imagine?
Could you imagine if no one ever fell, if our kids never said anything embarrassing, if bloopers never happened, and if we never fucked up so badly that we had that awesome story to tell six months later?
We would never laugh if people were perfect all the time.
That would suck!
And if we were perfect all the time, we’d never have opportunities to do better. We’d never be able to feel proud of ourselves because we’d never improve. We’d just be on a constant hamster wheel trying to maintain a level of perfection at all times.
We’d self destruct.
Which is what happens on a certain level to moms who are constantly trying to achieve perfection.
And it’s not just moms. It’s dads too. Did you see Randall in the latest episode of This Is Us? He’s the poster child for the negative effects of trying to be perfect across the board!
Nope. Being a good mom or wife or husband or father is not about being perfect.
And perhaps the biggest danger of all in the quest for perfection is that we are (unknowingly) giving our children the message that that’s what we expect of them.
And that’s not good.
The key to life is not perfection.
The key to truly enjoying the ups of life while navigating the downs, making it through the time when it sucks to when it’s great to when it sucks again to when it’s great again is awareness. And growth. And improvement. And acceptance.
When you possess all those things, you realize it’s the imperfections that help to make you a better mother and wife and person.
Because you are moving forward.
And that’s the key.
Not waking up each and every day and maintaining a level of flawlessness.
But waking up each and every day and simply putting one foot in front of the other.