Stuffs I Read

Reading Is My Passion

The Perfection Myth May 28, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — sarah @ 12:41 pm

You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. Nobody’s perfect. Give it up.

Nobody likes their nose. Or their knees, for that matter. Everybody finds annoying lumps, bumps and wrinkles, typically invisible to others, in various and sundry locations on their body.

And if you have kids, ideas of perfection go completely out the window. You dress them up; you take them out–and they do you in. Think of it this way: Children are intended to embarrass their parents in public; it’s God’s plan for instant humility.

Then there’s work, where a co-worker from hell, ever on the alert to criticize, seems to be as inevitable as crying babies on a plane. And there’s driving, when the guy in the next car salutes us with half a Peace sign for our unintentional driving faux pas. Not to mention social gatherings during which names vaporize from our brains just as recognizable faces approach.

Imperfection as far as the eye can see. And so it goes. We need to work out a plan whereby we can do our best and somehow not get in a dither that our best can sometimes (Often? Always?) fall short of perfection.

Parents should announce imperfection as a fact of life to their children–right as they come out of the chute. If kids knew the deal from the start, it would save them the wear and tear of trying to achieve the impossible. And it would save a whole lot of singing and dancing by the parents as they try to gloss over their own shortcomings. Which you don’t have to do if you’re giving the parent-thing a good effort. Kids see parents as heroic and larger than life anyway. They don’t need delusions of perfection.

And parents desperately need to remember that no amount of effort will result in a perfect child. The kids won’t always behave perfectly in church or in restaurants. They won’t hit home runs every time at bat. They’ll pick inconvenient times to get loudly unhappy. Children are crazy-making devices, but they’re a terrific blessing. It shouldn’t take a lot of effort to settle for terrific.

Giving up on absolute perfection means we can give life the best we have to give. We can still reach high; still live with great joy. But we won’t have to waste an ounce of energy pretending to be something we’re not.

When we give up on the impossible, we’re free to reach our highest level of possible. Higher by far than we could reach by spending half our time trying to fake it.

Then, all relaxed, we can take a clear look at ourselves and learn the good news–which is that we’re less imperfect than we thought. The truth lies somewhere between perfection and where we believe we are.

In a place called wonderful.

By  Bette Dowdell


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