Have you ever wondered what your life would be like if you were smarter? Prettier? Richer? More talented? If somehow, by a small chance of fate, you owned the winning lottery ticket? Have you ever wished that your life was just like the lives of celebrities on those superficial reality shows that you always make fun of? If your life was, for lack of a better word, perfect?
I am not perfect. Nor will I ever be. Nobody is ever perfect, yet most expect no less. Many say that you should always strive for perfection, because if you aim to be perfect, you will achieve excellence. But excellence isn’t always good enough, because you know that the only reason you got to that point was because you tried so hard to be more, to be perfect. Excellence is not perfection, and perfection was your goal. Therefore by attaining excellence, you have failed.
Is this the world we live in? An endless downward spiral of disappointments and failures, never satisfied because we know that it could always be better? If you win an Olympic gold medal, the public expects you to win another. One simply isn’t good enough. You found the cure to a fatal disease? Good for you, now what about the rest of them? Why haven’t you found a solution for cancer yet? Oh look! You got all As on your report card! Now how come you only got 89% in Math?
Teenagers constantly complain about parents ‘never’ being satisfied. I love my family more than anything, and I have a great relationship with my parents but even I sometimes can’t stand their contradictions. For years, all I ever heard was “Stop reading, get out of the house. You need to work at your friendships and get outside more. Why don’t you ask if Breanna wants to come over? How come you never play with your friends?” Now, I’m told on a regular basis that I need to spend more time at home, with my family, or doing homework. Why haven’t I picked up a book in over a month? Why must I spend so much time with friends. What is the point of going to the mall if you aren’t going to buy anything? Get up, you’re going to be late for school. You need to spend more time on your schoolwork. Then, why do you have so much homework? You need to get more sleep!
And on and on and on. I’m sure almost every child, every parent, every boss and employee and teacher and student faces these problems every day. You can’t please everyone. And more often than not, you can’t even please just one person. There’s always something wrong, or something that could be better. ‘Good’ is not acceptable. ‘Excellent’ is rarely good enough. If you truly want everyone to love and admire and respect you, you need to be perfect.
Of course, no one likes someone with no flaws. Why do you always have to make the rest of us look bad? Stop being such a snob.
It is only human to make mistakes, I suppose. And I think one of our biggest flaws, as an entire species, is not being able to accept that we make these mistakes. And I genuinely wish that we could accept ourselves for every little imperfection that makes us who we are. But I can’t judge, because I know that I’m one of the worst for not being able to accept myself. Sure I could list pages and pages of every mistake I’ve made in the past week. But acknowledging is not the same as accepting; I would also be able to come up with three different excuses for each one. I have a hard time admitting when something at all connected to me is wrong, or even just less than perfect. I suppose most people do, it’s not like I’m any worse than others. But it feels like that. It feels like I am so perfectionistic and obsessive about making everyone happy, that I forget to let myself by happy.
About a week ago, I got a huge wakeup call. I had spent so much time, I had wasted so much time, worrying about pleasing others, and not letting myself be happy, that in the end, no one was happy. Half of the time I was acting like a three-year old, whiny and obnoxious. The other half of the time, I was a depressed blob. A blob. And I was dragging everyone else down with me. My little brother was terrified of me, carefully tiptoeing around the house not wanted to say or do the wrong thing. My dad, already teenager-phobic, wouldn’t have a proper conversation with me. Only single, monosyllabic words. But my mother, trained in the art of dealing with bratty teens, had had enough. So she confronted me, and told me exactly what I needed to hear. Not what I necessarily wanted to hear, but certainly what I needed. She explained exactly how exasperated she was with being patient and putting up with me. It’s fine for a day, maybe two, maybe even a week. But you can’t be miserable forever. So I pulled myself together, and took charge of my life. It’s not like anything was really going wrong in the first place, I was just taking it with the wrong attitude. At first I thought my mom was being unreasonable, of course. I can’t just change my entire outlook on life, right? And I wasn’t even being that bad in the first place….right?
But I was, of course I was. Mothers are always right. There, I said it. And that’s what I said to my mom, which is why it’s now in writing, signed, on a piece of paper on the door of my fridge. ‘Mothers always know best (most of the time)’, and there it will remain until I change my mind again, only to be proven wrong yet again by an almost annoyingly superb mother. In the end, I didn’t change my entire outlook on life. I just remembered what it was like to live for myself, not for others, something which I hadn’t even realized I’d forgotten.
So you can’t be perfect. You can’t always be the best. And you can’t change who you are in one day just because you had a fight with your mom. But you can be happy. You can love yourself. The vulnerabilities, the flaws and imperfections, the mistakes, and the frustrations, but most of all, the beauty, the talent, the personality, and all of those amazing things that you probably never knew existed. Maybe you still haven’t found them yet. But don’t worry, one day someone will show you. [Thanks Mom]