The Plight of Perfection.

This past week I spent a lot of time at a friend’s house.
A quick glance at her house and you can tell that she has great taste.
Her style is classic colonial with splash of cottage and a dash of shabby chic.
It all looks so put-together and perfect.
Pillows that match and sets of golden frames.
Books for decor and books for reading.
Beautiful art and fabulous accessories.

But if you look a little closer, you’ll find scratched hardwood,
a little stain on those matchy-match decorative pillows,
part of the art sculpture that is broken off,
sheet sets with mismatched pillowcases,
a washer and dryer that are on their last legs,
and a door that sticks.

And I’d be willing to bet that as my friend stands in her own home and looks around her,
It’s the torn up and broken and less-than-perfect stuff that she sees.
(At your house, don’t you?)
(I know I do.)

And it’s not just our houses that don’t pass self-inspection.
It’s our looks and clothes and stuff and the work we do.
We are, indeed, our own worst critic.
I can find flaws in every picture I take.
I agonize over words that I write in this space and others.
My house is always cluttered.
My car is never clean.
I always have piles of papers stashed in corners
And closets crammed with stuff I don’t have time to organize.
I think my own ideas are ridiculous and fruitless.
And I often squash good ideas before they blossom simply because they don’t seem good enough.

We put an insane amount of pressure on ourselves (and others) to be perfect.
Oh, we don’t use that word, of course.
And we don’t admit that we’re even doing it.
We call it constructive criticism or critique.
(But it’s there.)
(And it’s hurting us all.)

There is nothing wrong with pushing yourself to be more, be a better you.
But there is something wrong with pushing yourself to be more of someone you’re not.

So the next time you look in the mirror and see crows feet and wrinkles?
Remember that I look at you and I see someone who smiles a lot.

Tomorrow when you get dressed and think your clothes are old and ratty?
Remember that I will see you dressed well in a shirt that looks comfortable and classy.
(I won’t even notice the frayed hem and that one spot on the bottom left side.)

And when you put on your shoes and notice the side is scratched and your nails aren’t painted?
I won’t even look at your feet, I promise.
(I hate feet.)

Lean in, dear friend.
There’s something I want to tell you
(and myself):

You aren’t perfect.
You won’t ever be perfect.
Your house won’t be perfect.
Your car won’t be perfect.
Your life will never be perfect.
listen closely…

perfection is impossible.
but finding happiness in the perfectly imperfect isn’t.

So now will you hold my hand?
Because this idea of perfect imperfection?
It’s kind of new to me.
And I’m not really sure how to do it on my own.


5 Responses to The Plight of Perfection.
  1. sarah
    July 25, 2011 | 11:26 am

    Love you. Love this. This was the (yes) PERFECT thing for me to read today as I just put toilet bowl cleaner in all the toilets to soak, and am ripping open boxes of Mr Clean Magic Erasers to make my house less imperfect because I should be able to do this all – right? Work, clean my house and be a good mom and why is my house so messy?

    I love your perfect imperfection.

  2. Jil
    July 25, 2011 | 12:16 pm

    This so hit home!! Why do we always try to be perfect? I’m so glad you put this into wards it was Perfect! It was something I really needed to read and bless you for that!! You touched my heart and I will be more mindful of finding joy in those little imperfections and try to be less judgemental of myself.

    Thanks again for being in tune with what needed to be said!!

  3. monica peapod
    July 25, 2011 | 12:58 pm

    you already know how i struggle with this. and now i’m adding a whole new dimension to the mix…trying to be the perfect teacher. i’ll hold your hand, but you’re gonna’ have to give mine a big old squeeze every now and again. i’m pretty sure i’ll screw up. 😉

  4. Christy
    July 25, 2011 | 6:14 pm

    Thanks. That’s about all I can say ….because I am still processing ….and thinking …and ….well, thanks.

  5. punkinmama
    July 27, 2011 | 12:08 pm

    It’s insane the amount of pressure we put on ourselves. But I know, in my head, all of what you wrote is true, but still have trouble living/accepting it.

    Just spend some more time on pinterest and you’ll see even more things we’re all failing at!