"One of our biggest troubles we have with ourselves, is thinking we can be loved perfectly in an imperfect world." Francis Frangipane
I would be lying if I said I didn't try to get loved perfectly most of my whole life up until about 4 years ago. Not only that, but struggled and still do with my own ideas of ideals. My struggles have been endless, I have had a bounty of struggles! I've dealt with the idea of perfection in my own way for many years, up until about 3 years ago. They are milder now, but still speak loud from time to time. We all have our own set of ideals, we all, at least most of us struggle with the idea that things should be perfect, or wish they were, if not that at the very least we wonder why life is such a mess and so painful, and why we can hardly shed enough grace on ourselves to put one foot in front of the other sometimes. Why these expectations? Where did they start? How did this sort of thinking and these unrealistic ideas even come into play? They are countless really.
There is so much pain and suffering around me, including my own that I can hardly bear. Just this year alone my parents have endured two of their children going through divorces, and one child moving across country and seeing her deal with the death of her best friend (that would be me). I can only imagine how heavy hearted my parents must be. And I am not even mentioning all the "minor" annoyances and tough things along the way this last year. Life hurts. Life sure can suck. And we don't like pain as humans. We naturally don't like physical, or emotional pain, so our instinct is to fight it. To hate it when it happens. There's got to be a better way. I know there is. There could easily be a PART 2 to this!
I'm going to share 4 areas that I believe the idea of perfectionism gets started and takes root. I am only listing 4 of the main ones, but there are several more and each one takes different directions and have deep deep roots. It's complicated, and typically a huge wound in our life.
1. Competitive Sports: Don't give up on me yet. There is something good in everything and everyone. But what these sports, especially professional, do to ones psyche is actually quite astounding. Take the Olympics for instance, again, I'm not bashing the Olympics, but these players try to be perfect. If they make one mistake are they rewarded? No. They are rewarded if they do better, if they are closer to perfect. And if they "fail" they carry that for the rest of their lives and it takes it's toll on them! They carry the loss for the whole team, and no one human should have to bear such a weight. It's not healthy. The behaviors in training feeds and feeds the person, to the point of actually believing they can be perfect at their skill. And nothing is perfect in an imperfect world, not even athletes, but we many support the sport, and encourage this type of thinking. We want our team to play perfectly, why? So they will win! Why? That's another blog post. But the perfect persona starts at a very young age with sports.
2. Physical Appearance: Never was there more of a time, well actually, I think it's calming down a bit, but the last 20 years with images in the media, TV, billboards, book stores, endless places to have "perfection" slapped right in front of us. Hundreds of years ago, beauty was not looked at the way it is today. Today it's all about being polished and tweaked by photo shop, and plastic surgery. We see make-up and beautiful hair, and we think we can be perfect the way they look in the magazines. Tween girls don't know that a celebrity or a model is actually sitting in a chair for about 3 hours to get the final look, plus if she's in a print spread, the computer will make her appear even more "perfect". Meet her in real life and she's like a different looking person. She's real looking. She even has what we call "flaws". Pimples, greasy skin, some dandruff maybe, and oh, maybe even some cellulite. Oh no! Thing is is most physical flaws are not "flaws" at all! We've just been so brainwashed to think they are. Even with social media there is a belief embedded that people have such perfect lives because they can CHOOSE what they share behind a screen! They are probably leaving out 80% of the behind the scenes.
3. Academics: There is an emphasis on getting A's that I personally think is unhealthy, and I'm not hear to suggest I know all there is about academics, I'm also not political, and it's also not that I don't believe that kids can do well, or should do well and work hard, but with that said, it seems to me the pressure to perform perfectly at school is a painful one. There is little talk about the child itself, but more about his performance in the tasks and how his or her grades could be better. I understand it's education, so there is an emphasis on performance and assignments, but what if we spent 10 more minutes at conferences talking about our children? Talking about who they are, what they like and how they are a wonderful human being? What if we didn't talk about grades as much? It makes me sad when parents give money to kids if their report card is full of A's. The idea of perfection is out of control if you ask me. But maybe no one is asking me. So it doesn't really matter what I think. But this is an area that perfection can start to take deep roots. We praise for A's. What does that even mean?? I think we are missing a more whole picture here. A more whole student. A more whole person. But that's just me.
4. We want to be loved: From the time we are little girls we want to be rescued. If our daddies weren't there for us, we look elsewhere. We have an instant longing, (I'm not sure how men feel about wanting to be loved specifically, because I'm not a man; maybe it isn't much different, but I can't speak of it). We strive to find love, get noticed for being pretty, or just simply try to get noticed. We want the attention of someone. Sometimes many someones. We enter into relationships that are romantic and non-romantic and we are so hurt along the way. Damaged really. We somehow didn't learn growing up that people can't love us perfectly. Or we maybe knew that, but when it came down to it, we were too devastated by being hurt that we couldn't adapt to being loved unwell. We still expected for whatever reason to be loved perfectly in an imperfect world, why? Is it a lack of remembering? Do we forget in our hurt that people can't love us perfectly so of course they will cause us pain? And we them? I think so. Simply put:others will hurt us something fierce. Beware if you haven't figured that out already. This does not mean we cannot or will not be loved well, so don't lose hope! Lowered expectations is a good place to start. And looking within to see how we might be affecting the relationship or adding fuel to the fire.
Simply put, we live in an imperfect world. Sure we hear that all the time, but I don't think we really hear it. I don't think we really get it, because if we did, we wouldn't be so hard on ourselves, AND we would accept the crap, the hard times, and the overall ups and downs of life a lot easier, more gracefully, and we wouldn't be so blown away the next time our car needs repairs, or all three kids are sick at the same time, or the water heater goes out, or we have relationships struggles, or we lose a job, or we don't get the promotion, or we don't get the house we so wanted. The list goes on, does it not? And there is never a day that goes by that we say things like,
"Just when life was going so good.....XY AND Z happened", or "I just can't win!", or "I just can't seem to catch a break!" We are all familiar with these sayings. We either say them out loud or to ourselves. Here's the deal. Life is good and BAD. Life is joy and SORROW, life is easy and HARD. Life is beautiful and UGLY. Life is fun and BORING. Life is life and DEATH(yes even this, sadly). Life is healthy and SICK. Life is happy AND sad. I think we have this idea in our heads that "If I just get to this point or once I'm through this hard time then.....". It doesn't work that way friends! Life is life and it will keep us on our toes in it's perfectly imperfect manner until the end of time!
My simplest way of explaining in my belief why the world is imperfect is the Garden story in the bible. Might seem like a myth, but I believe that God gave us, like He gave Adam and Eve in the Garden, a choice. They chose against what God said they could do and it has never been the same. We have free will, we chose a different way than what God chose and wanted for us, that means there is sin, disease, evil and much more in this world. It means it's imperfect, and it's not how God set it up to be. So we have a royal mess. So wouldn't we then expect life to be messy if we know this to be true? Even if you don't believe in the Garden story like I do, we can all agree that this life is broken for some reason or another. So that means it's far from perfect, and that must mean that WE are far from perfect. Our everyday. Our every week. Our every month. Our every year. And there after. But yet we are still surprised when things go wrong or get hard! Why??!
What if we stopped imposing perfection in an imperfect world? What if we accepted that this is reality and we can't do anything about it expect maybe something about our attitudes in it? Maybe we can find a way to live at peace in a set of crappy circumstances? Maybe we can not be shaken when life throws us the curve balls we know it will. Maybe that's the way to approach the imperfections of life. If this life and the people in it are imperfect, including me, how do I live in it well? Maybe living through the lens of "tomorrow will be good no matter what because I accept it with all it's imperfections, including myself", is a good place to start.
And remember, life isn't out to get YOU. It's not personal. Life isn't particularly hard on you. You're not the only one! Life happens in different ways to all of us. It can be harder at certain times for certain people and then harder for others at another time. It's ever changing and up and down. But it's not out to get you. WE all have our own messes, pain, troubles, dreams, goals, stories and hopes. We are all affected and touched by life. All of us. We are all perfectly imperfect.
And if you want to know "why me???!!" It's simple, life is imperfect.