The Pressure of Perfect


What comes to mind when you hear that word? I think of this flawless person who never has a hair out of place, always looks perfect, and never makes a mistake. I think of Pinterest worthy outfits and meals, tan, sculpted muscles, and the community involvement of a saint.

I don’t think of a working mom trying to juggle work, parenting, and her marriage.

I don’t think of a pale, tattooed, fingerless, flabby waisted woman with acne scars whose hair changes color depending on her mood.

I don’t think of someone who struggles to make friends or belong somewhere because her anxiety messes with her head.

I don’t think of someone who works every day to be proud of her flaws while also working on living her best life.

I don’t think of myself - and I bet you don’t either.

You don’t see me. You don’t see YOU. You probably don’t see anybody at all… just this mystical creature of flawless perfection who you know, despite your best efforts, you’ll never be like. Yet, there seems to be this idea that with the right tools, we can be perfect. We’re pressured constantly by marketers and social media to be more perfect and fix whatever is “broken”.

Problem with [X]? Well we have the product for you! All for the low price of $99.99.

I read a quote once that said

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our heads of how it’s supposed to be.”

For me, that picture was perfection. For so, so long I thought I had to be as close to picture-freaking-perfect as I could. This need for perfection lead to comparison which then lead to the feeling that I was always lacking and my best was never good enough.

There is so much pressure in today’s society to be perfect. No flaws - no mistakes. We’re sorted and ranked throughout school and extracurriculars, lead to believe our value is tied in with our performance and how much we get accomplished throughout the day, and pressured to appear flawless from our head to our toes.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge advocate for self-reflection and constant self-development. Not because we’re broken or imperfect, but because we deserve to respect ourselves enough to cut out and change behaviors that are hurting our physical and mental health - that are keeping us from living our best, happiest lives. There’s a difference in self-reflection and self-criticism. Self-reflection is a state of looking back at our actions and analyzing the good, the bad, and everything in between to make healthy, positive changes. Self-criticism is an unhealthy, default state of looking for what we did wrong or not good enough in every single situation.

We HAVE to let go of this idea of perfection. It doesn’t exist. I can’t think of a single person in my life who is perfect. Keeping up this facade of “I can be perfect if I can just fix X, Y, and Z” is hurting us. It hurts ourselves, our relationships, and our communities. Nothing is perfect. Nothing.

BONUS: As I was finishing edits on this post, this article on millennials feeling pressure to be perfect popped up on my feed. Enjoy!

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