In light of World Mental Health Day on the 10th of October, and plus a reoccurring theme that seems to be put to bed quicker than it can be talked about, there is a constant pressure to be perfect.
As a little background but without going into too much detail, mental health issues run throughout my family in all different shapes and sizes, so I know the effects of them very well. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks, which coincides with my Fibromyalgia – I remember my first panic attack when I was around 8 years old, I realise that a lot of my ‘obsessive’ traits, ‘irrational’ fears and my self-consciousness fears of perfectionism come from anxiety. But I got very, very lucky compared to many people I know. Let’s end the stigma.
A common theme is the pressure to be perfect. I wrote a post a few days ago, Why self-love is the key to happiness, which highlights the importance of accepting and embracing ourselves. But we all have days where we seemingly don’t care about how we look, or act, when really we hide behind this strong mask of self-consciousness and doubt that “I don’t feel good” or “I don’t look good”, “I don’t feel right in myself”, “I am uncomfortable” and would rather not face it.
But, no matter how hard we try, we cannot change that fact that, for some reason, we live in a world that celebrates perfectionism – it is in the depths of our society. It literally runs through our culture. It is the embodiment of power, beauty, success. But it is much more flawed than we think.
“If you look for perfection, you’ll never be content.”
― Leo Tolstoy
It seems to be that we are more ‘accepted’ with every perfect trait we have. We don’t feel ‘weird’ or ‘out of place’ when we are perfect. We are praised, applaused, more likeable… for everything that is good. We gain more, we feel better, we feel… ourselves when people accept us, right? After all, it is, unfortunately, part of our instinctual values to feel the need to be accepted in society.
But what about when who you are is not socially acceptably ‘good’? Do we then jump to the conclusion that we therefore must be… bad? Is it, what people call, a flaw? What does this word even mean?!
The fact is, nothing nor nobody is perfect, even if you believe, truly, that they are.
Even when it screams through the picture on Instagram, or there is a way to do a piece of work to 100%, there is no such thing. We seem to believe that everything we see is how things really are – that is not the case.
Perfectionism is a socially constructed phenomenon. Perfection is as subjective as finding something likeable. It is as opinionated as you when you enjoy something that someone else cannot stand. Perfect is merely a verb, and definitely not a way of life.
It is so easy to get lost in the web of perfectionism that it becomes an obsessive trait (hello, Lauren, please listen to your own advice here), even when you, yourself, preach about it! It is easier said than done, but it is not an infinite battle.
But when we get caught up and it seems that we aren’t good enough, remember, there is no such thing as perfect. It is literally not real.
And there is also no such thing as being ‘more’ than someone else – this feeling of inadequacy has become so easy to take. Why? We are our own human beings, we are our own individual people. We are not robots, and we should be happy about it.
We have to be ok with this idea, as a society, but most importantly, to ourselves too. We owe it to ourselves, we go through enough! We are cutting off each good thing about ourselves that we suddenly feel we have nothing left to offer.
Embrace who you are and what you have to offer to the world. If you are not good at something, don’t feel a need to hide from it – seize it. Not one person is good at everything. If you haven’t found it yet, then I am telling you, you are searching in the wrong places!
Prioritise what you want to be, where you see yourself and most importantly how you see yourself. This is much more important in your life.