the “perfection” myth

Perfection doesn’t exist, for any one or any thing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

People, by nature, are flawed. And even the most incredible vacation or meal or outfit innately will have a flaw at some point (a nasty sunburn; food poisoning; a snag in our tights). We just tend to focus on the good because, well, that’s human nature.

We remember drinking piña coladas in the swim-up bar while the sun sets; sinking our fork into the incredible flourless chocolate torte drizzled with raspberry coulis; how sexy we felt dancing in that gorgeous little black dress that made heads turn.

We forget the flaws because the good outweighs the bad.

I’ve never ever — not even for a second, not in a million years– thought of myself as someone who others would see as “perfect” or as someone who has it all together. Not even close.

From my unruly auburn hair and Casper-like skin, I’ve always stood out in a crowd … and not necessarily in a good way. In high school and college — even though I wasn’t ever significantly overweight — I was still always the heaviest of my friends.

And then on top of my appearance, I have other issues: I talk too much, don’t have a filter (oops, did I say that!?), and am super-anxious by nature.

I am someone who can relate nearly any story or situation — not to one-up or to brag, but to show empathy and understanding … and sometimes it backfires. Sometimes that turns people away.

I like to think I’m a good friend, but sometimes my listening skills are less-than-stellar and I need to be reminded of an important detail.

And often, I’m insecure.

Yes, I come from a close-knit family and yes, I am happily married with two beautiful kids and an adorable horse puppy and yes, I have a good job … but while those aspects of my life make me who I am, they are just that: aspects of my life which make me who I am.

Like everyone else on this planet, I fight with my husband, get frustrated with my kids, have bad days at work and struggle with the reflection in the mirror and the voices in my head.

And like everyone else on this planet, I have demons. I’m flawed. Lord knows I’m flawed.

Fortunately, I’ve managed to turn my “flaw” into a voice, aiming to do good … and I think that’s what keeps me going: knowing I have a voice, knowing I can help others by sharing my history.

And over the past six years of blogging and sharing my story, I’ve been shocked by how many people (friends, family, strangers) have been surprised by my revelation … and voiced their relief (if that’s the right word?) when I unveiled my secret.

“Relief” not because they were happy I suffered from disordered eating or anything sinister like that — but because they had apparently viewed me very differently than I view myself. I can’t tell you how many have said some form of “I’m kind of glad to know you’re not perfect. You just seem to have it all together” to me.

Though I’ve always been surprised by others’ reactions, I’ve never once been offended by their words; I know it’s always come from a good place and well-intentioned. But the fact that it’s happened so many times (including as recently as just last week!) truly blows my mind.

I definitely don’t think I have it all together, nor do I feel like I try to pretend I do. So what I’m left to wonder is, why would anyone think I’m immune to having issues? Don’t we all have issues?!

This is my theory: perception is reality … and people see what they want to see. Lord knows I have seen what I wanted to see about others, and am usually surprised to find out there’s usually more than meets the eye. It just goes to show: you never know what goes on behind closed doors or in someone’s mind. How many times have we assumed someone else has it all together only to find out they’re coping with enormous loss … or a life-threatening illness … or some other unbearable hardship … or struggling with something terrible in their past?

Some people are just good at putting their best foot forward regardless — and I think maybe that’s why I’ve managed to (unintentionally!) make others think I have my head on right … by being the eternal optimist who just keeps on keeping on, in spite of what challenges lie ahead. I think some people are just born this way. Maybe it’s my (subconscious) defense mechanism … who knows.

As my high school cheerleading coach used to say, “Your attitude and your aptitude determine your altitude.”

There’s a bounty of truth in those eight words.

I’m far from perfect. But I think my attitude (generally positive) has helped me appear more in-charge of my life than I might feel.

How about you? Do people perceive you differently than you perceive yourself?





3 thoughts on “the “perfection” myth

  1. I think social media has made the perfection myth worse because of the “sharing only what we want the world to see” aspect. When I go to certain people’s Facebook profiles, I only see beautiful, carefully-staged pictures of their adorable, perfectly-groomed families, nice houses, exotic vacations, etc. and I find myself resenting them for having “perfect” lives, even though I know deep down that they’re only sharing the good and not the bad. (Which is ridiculous, because I’m perfectly satisfied with my own life and have no reason to be resentful of anyone.) Because it affects me so deeply when other people do it, I’ve become a LOT more restrictive/private about what I post on Facebook or other social media sites. I don’t ever want people to make judgments, either good or bad, about me or my son based on what I choose to share with the world.

    1. Oh you are absolutely right. Social media is like Photoshop — it embellishes the good and strips out the bad. So everyone just shares all their awesomeness — self included, though I try not to seem TOO rosy since lord knows my life ain’t! No one wants to hear that my kid has pink eye (I actually have it!) or that I’m miserable at work (I’m not, but we all have crappy days) . Because when someone becomes “that girl” or “that guy” who is a total downer on social media, no one wants to listen, either — so it goes both ways. There’s a middle ground.

      I know for me, my blog has been the root of who I am — the good, the bad, the ugly. I never shared Facebook or Twitter statuses about my DE issues; no one would have wanted to hear it and it wouldn’t have sparked a conversation. A blog, to me, is the place to delve deeper. To show my true self.

      That’s a good way to manage how it affects you — by carefully choosing what you share.

      1. Oh yeah, a good point about people who use social media to constantly complain and elicit sympathy. I’ve actually unfriended/unfollowed a few people in that category because the negativity brings me down! As my friend recently said to me during a similar discussion, “I think I want to become the person who only posts kitten memes and George Takei quotes.” 🙂

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