An immaculate home. A toned body. Wrinkle-free skin. Shiny hair. Straight, white teeth. A certain amount of calories per day. A number on the scale. A color-coordinated closet. The "right" number of children. The perfect job. Being available for everyone at all times. Completing every task on your to do list. Praying often.
What if for one day you let it all go? What if today you were imperfect?
Perfection is subjective. To some it may be related to their career, relationship, finances or appearance, and to others, it may involve their moral character or spiritual center. But the thread that connects us all is the idea that we are never perfect enough.
This concept became very apparent to me on New Years's Day. I always create a new vision board on the first of the year, and although my focus is usually on what I want to create for the coming year, my "vision" became clouded with the actual appearance of the board itself. I found myself perfecting the corners of each photo and arranging them in a particular pattern. I tried to choose colors that complemented my board, along with images that were the ideal size.
I was satisfied with my work until I took out the glitter and went a little too far. Instead of recognizing the power in the images I had chosen, I stared at the glop of glitter a little too intently. I was so angry at myself for "ruining" my board, and spent too much time cursing my unsteady hand. It was as if I couldn't focus on my future until everything looked just right.
I know that I am not alone in this perfect abyss. I have a client who is a fabulous chef. She loves to have dinner parties, but she is always so busy organizing her kitchen and being the ideal host that she never enjoys her guests. In addition, I have a close friend who has been rearranging her apartment for months now because she feels she can't enjoy her free time until her apartment is perfect. I know countless women who refuse to go out if they feel "fat" or if their skin is broken out. And men who refuse to consider a serious relationship until their career is completely on track.
So the question is: What are we achieving when we constantly strive for perfection? In some ways we actually create a loss of freedom; we have less time and make more excuses for why we are unable to reach certain goals or enjoy life at all. This is a one-way ticket to avoidance. You stay stuck and constantly live in the future, rather than enjoy the present moment.
It's also a common way to ignore the core issues. Maybe you believe that happiness is only present when things are orderly, but you miss out on the pleasure in a little bit of chaos. Perhaps you avoid a night out because you don't feel your best, but you avoid a chance to connect with someone important to you. What if waiting for your career to happen causes you to miss out on a special relationship?
Today I encourage you to accept a little disorganization. Leave your inbox slightly more full. Wear a little less makeup. Throw out your scale. Stop counting calories. Invite friends into your home. Cook for others and enjoy the meal. Breathe deeply. Hug a loved one. Look in the mirror and smile. Stand in your surroundings and be grateful. Sit at your desk and feel proud. Drop your phone and connect to others face to face. Recognize how far you have come. Accept yourself today and embrace the future -- because being imperfect makes you human.