It surrounds me everywhere I go. The messages inundate me each time I walk into a store, turn on a television, or log onto the internet. I am constantly berated, reminded of how extraordinarily imperfect I am. In fact, a quick Google search can give me the answers I need to fix my imperfections:
My boobs are not big enough. My waist is not tiny enough since I’ve had the baby. My stretch marks exist. My layers grow out and I have more than three or four gray hairs. And thanks to Kim Kardashian, I now know that I can’t even balance a champagne glass on my ass. Thanks a lot, Kim:
Here is a potato that looks like Kim Kardashian. pic.twitter.com/9XPG1no4Df
— Lisa (@biscuitahoy) November 12, 2014
Thanks to Facebook marketing, I can now look in the mirror and believe that my eyelashes aren’t good enough because they are not revolutionary in 3D lushness. They are just regular lashes. My fingernails don’t cut it when they are polished because they aren’t wrapped in anything. I only know how to wrap my scarf in two ways instead of the two dozen being shared in a Youtube video. I never tried to master cake pops because they make me gag. I won’t upcycle pallets because I’m afraid of splinters and tetanus. I refuse to believe Gandhi, Buddha, Marilyn Monroe, or the Dalai Lama have said half the things that have been tattooed on wrists, ankles, or the insteps of feet.
Perfection is a pernicious disease. It infects faster than the cold or flu and yet it takes more than washing your hands to help prevent it. I wouldn’t say I am immune to the seduction of perfection, but I have long ago grown tired of its image. It is exhausting to maintain an image, to create an illusion of false reality. I did it for years to hide my anxiety disorder because I worried too much about looking “unprofessional” or appearing “not put together”. I worked for an administrator who had never been ill enough to vomit and employed a nanny for her children; she was not sympathetic to anyone who couldn’t “get over things” even if she said she was. My last two years of teaching involved me waking up earlier and earlier in order to get dressed and factor in time for a panic attack. I needed two hours to prepare myself for the work day because I needed the ritual of putting on make-up, curling my hair, choosing an outfit — all slow and routine behaviors — to keep myself calm. To keep my world looking normal. Perfect.
We have built a strange world around us that runs on confusion and mixed messaging. It feels like the world revolves around a cocktail of designer yoga wardrobes for women who are meditating for simplicity after having their hair done at a spa and buying organic groceries at a franchised all-natural market forty miles away from home. How many quotes on living a simple life and breathing in fresh air does one person need in her home to remind her to leave her home?
(I’m serious, how many does one need? I’m asking for a friend.)
There may be a time when I can sew in a straight line and will bother ironing clothes. I only barely cleaned the windowsill in my daughter’s room not because I’m lazy (completely lazy, that is) but because I didn’t want to wash off her little footprints from when she would climb onto it instead of napping. I know I am not perfect. I am happy to sit next to you on my unswept porch and fill you in on all my imperfections. I am more than happy to share with people my failings and mistakes. Not because I have a bizarre sense of pride in these things, but because I want people to feel comfortable in knowing that perfection is neither expected from me nor is it required for acceptance. The more open I am about my screwiness and anxiety, the more seats are left open for my tribe at the table.
Come as you are, please. Let me tell you about when I tried to make alfredo sauce from cauliflower and thought I invented a weapon of mass destruction instead. We can laugh together and share in the relief that comes from embracing the gift of being human. And mercifully flawed.