The Illusion of Perfection

I have been pondering the idea of perfection. Of being a “perfectionist”. Of our desire to prove that we have it all together, that our lives are shiny, that we don’t want to show the world our imperfections, our mistakes, our most intimate inner truth. For some reason we may think that everything has to be “shiny” before we expose it to the world. I wonder why we are so afraid to show our humanness, our quirks, our unpolished selves? Why is it that we have a hard time showing the exact things that make us human… what is up with that?

In pretending we are perfect, I notice that something else is lost. If I am perfect and can achieve that perfection on my own (as if), then I do not need anyone else. I can achieve what I need to, without having to rely on anyone else. And therefore no one else can disappoint me, or hurt me. But here is what gets me. If I am perfect then I don’t need you and hopefully you won’t need me. There is a huge connection there that is lost, and I do believe it is because we are fearful. We put up walls, we don’t want to get hurt. It seems that many of us have been taught to strive for perfection, to do it ourselves, to not rely on others. But why aren’t we taught more often how to handle failure, how to redirect, how not to be ashamed of our attempts that didn’t go where we thought they would? How to follow our dreams and not worry too much about the outcome. Just stay true to our inner compass.

Now of course, many people ARE taught these things. It is just that I see a huge number of us who were not. I was raised to work hard, get a safe job, stay at it my whole life, make sure I am getting a consistent paycheck and make careful and sound decisions. I have one voice on my shoulder that completely understands and preaches those same things to my children. But as my kids tell me, it is a different world now. These are different times. Especially now. So many of our kids see us living lives they want nothing to do with. We are tired, we are stressed, we are sick, we are burnt out. They see us giving away our most valuable asset…time.

Now back to that idea of perfection. None of us are good at EVERY area of our life. In fact, I think that leads to a mediocre life if you are mildly skilled in all areas. What about my passion, my dreams, my curiosity? What would life be like if we poured our energy into those things, and trusted that we would receive and access the expertise we need in other areas, from other people. We NEED other people. Together we can create beautiful things, that require all of our talents. A collective. Our needs have a way of weaving us together in a way that results in a beautiful tapestry that makes life infinitely more interesting. And the bonus is that along the way we have needed, connected, supported and appreciated each other. So much richer, more colourful and in the end stronger, because it wasn’t achieved in a silo.

2020 has taught us many things, and there are still many more lessons to come I am sure. It is not done Kicking. Our. Ass. We need each other. We have redefined what is considered ‘essential’ in our lives and what we have learned we can do without. There have been some surprises in there. Truck drivers, cashiers, cleaning staff, warehouse workers, are all considered essential in a way that maybe they never have been before. And there has also been a reckoning for me during this time that has forced me to acknowledge that I have been living a privileged life made possible by many people who sacrificed and struggled (many without a choice) so that I could enjoy the comforts that I do. Wow. What an asshole I am. And that is good. It is time I reckon with that.

So, I choose to be a brave, unapologetic, imperfect person. Take me or leave me. And I want to keep it that way. I want to need other people. I enjoy the things other people can offer that I am terrible at. I will choose to keep showing up real, and true, and authentic. Not shiny. At the most I may or may not put some make-up on. And either way that is ok. Let’s keep it real. And maybe, just maybe we will emerge from these crazy times more beautiful and interwoven than where we were when it all began to unravel. Keep showing up. Keep working towards your dreams. Keep connecting. I promise, the payoff is more than worth any fear or doubt you may have. The world needs your gifts. Tell us your story. It may just change someone’s life.

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