The relentless pressure to be perfect has reached epidemic proportions. Take a quick look through Instagram and it seems like everyone is an independently wealthy supermodel who can eat whatever they want and has never had to work a day in their life. They are usually surrounded by even more impossibly gorgeous friends, all lazily sunning themselves by the infinity pool of some contemporary steel and glass home overlooking the cerulean waters of an undetermined exotic locale.
Then there’s me.
I just had french fries and cabernet for dinner. At the Houston airport because of an unexpected 10 hour layover. I may or may not have spilled a glass of water on my no-name carry-on luggage as I tried to maneuver the extremely tightly-packed tables. Pretty much the exact opposite of the ideal of perfection that is constantly skulking around the corner ready to jump out at us and demand our attention.
But underneath the superficial beauty of all those perfect images could lie a very different narrative. Perfection suggests a state of flawlessness, without any defects. To be perfect implies a condition where your actions or your performance attains a level of excellence that cannot be exceeded. But, how much of our existence can we devote to trying to be perfect, before we begin to realize we don’t have much of an existence?
To a certain extent, the pursuit of perfection can help us stay on track and help us to achieve our goals. For instance, people like Martha Stewart and Serena Williams probably wouldn’t have gotten where they are today without that drive. But, there comes a point of diminishing returns.
When the obsession with having a six pack, a bigger chest, or a tighter ass keeps you from enjoying time with friends or family, it might be time to take a look at why that obsession is there in the first place. Usually, it comes from a feeling of unworthiness, a fear of not measuring up to our peers. We tend to think that if everything on the outside looks perfect, they won’t notice that we’re sad, lonely, or ashamed of ourselves.
The irony though: The more we strive for perfection (a constantly moving target that is impossible to actually hit) the worse we end up feeling. Because by not obtaining that elusive goal, it justifies our internal dialogue of not being good enough.
Perhaps the harder thing is to stop the relentless pursuit of the perfect body or the perfect life, and to spend some time with the idea that you are perfect enough just the way you are right now.
Learn to embrace and appreciate all your little imperfections, because it’s in your uniqueness that your greatest beauty lies.
Next time you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through all the beautiful images on Instagram of perfect people and their lives, stop and think for a while about how exhausting maintaining that facade must be, while you are enjoying your dinner of wine and french fries.