How much time do we spend trying to be the perfect something?
The Perfect Parent, the Perfect Spouse, the Perfect Friend. The Perfect Teacher, the Perfect Cook, the Perfect Baker. The Perfect This, the Perfect That, the Perfect Everything to Everyone.
More time than we’d like to admit. Because even when we don’t realize we’re doing it, we’re doing our best to make everything look and sound and be Perfect.
And where does that get us? It gets us into a hole that we have a hard time climbing out of. Because when we attempt it and push for it and don’t stop until we think we’ve found it (which means we don’t stop), we end up feeling like a failure. We chide ourselves and ridicule ourselves and put ourselves way, way down because we couldn’t do that one last thing to absolute perfection. But perfection isn’t possible. Unless you’re Sangria on a beach in Bora Bora, perfection isn’t coming your way.
But you know what is coming your way? People who love you just the way you are. It sounds incredibly trite and overly cliche, but it is completely true. We, you and me, are the ones who put those expectations of perfection on ourselves. We’re putting our worth in something that can never come to fruition. Sometimes those Perfection Expectations are learned behavior from an abusive childhood. Sometimes they’re a reaction to rose-colored glasses life you think your parents lived. Sometimes it’s a response to the “perfection” you see on magazine and album covers. All of which is created perfection, because those people whose perfection you’re trying to emulate apparently didn’t have what you have: the chance to be you. The chance to real and messy and imperfect and in a place to be open about the fact that you don’t have it all together. Because nobody has it all together. Not the Photoshopped women on Marie Claire or Vogue, and not the real-life model-looking mom who seems to be walking on air as her prim-and-proper four-year-old sits quietly while yours is outdoing the musak in Applebees.
I held a newborn today. A fussy one who was pretty upset at any moment he wasn’t attached to his mama. He’s just learning this living thing, you know. He’s only been doing it for three weeks. But holding him I realized: so are we. So what if I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I’ve learned some lessons, sure. But I still have questions every day of my life. And I make mistakes. I walk into walls (seriously), I fumble my dance moves, I say the wrong thing (this happens more often than any other), and I don’t keep my apartment nearly as neat as I think I should. None of us has it all together. None of us has all the answers. None of us can be perfect despite our very tiring, ever-exhaustive attempts at doing so.
Your spouse loves your effort to look nice and cook a meal. But if your belly is a little pudgy today and you burn the potatoes, your spouse will still love you as much as he did this morning. Probably more so because you’re being real, living in the moment, annoying as it may be.
Your boss loves the attention to detail you put into your projects, but you’re still a reliable employee when you’ve overlooked two itty-bitty pieces, because you are human. Editors and erasers exist for a reason.
Your child loves that you hold him tight, sing her bedtime songs, watch her play in the yard, and play Castle Panic with him. She’ll love you just as much on the days your 100% is at about 80% because you just don’t have it all to give.
We cannot be everything to everyone because we are just one human trying our best to live this crazy life. Show yourself some grace. Remember that ‘good enough’ doesn’t have to be settling. ‘Good enough’ is you showing up, being present, loving the space you’re in and the people you’re with, and being you. Being real and messy and imperfect. In the moment, loving life exactly as you are, with exactly who you’re with. Simply, living your best life.