Shattering the Standard of Perfection
By Jordyn | @TheChronicallyUnimaginable | November 13, 2019
In our culture today we are pushed to succeed. Our status and progress is compared to someone deemed better than us. It is so thoroughly engrained into our subconscious that self love seems like a silly thing. A practice that only "losers" do to make themselves feel better. To the teacher announcing the student with the highest grades all the way to the boss praising their model employee. It becomes clear very early in life that certain things are wanted from us to be accepted. We need to act a certain way in order to be welcomed into important social circles. How does that make any sense? Why are there billions of people who exist that do not meet these standards, if it is indeed as important as it is portrayed? The simple truth is that it is all a lie.
When we grow up in a culture that doesn't value every single person for who they are, we are telling them that they don't matter. As children, we cannot flourish in an environment where we aren't taught to love ourselves. We cannot be perfect in a world where perfection doesn't exist. For example, I was the smart kid that every teacher liked to brag about and I absolutely hated it. I lied about the perfect marks on tests to my friends, because the comparison didn't matter in my eyes. It broke my heart every time a teacher openly talked about how amazing I was as a student compared to the rest of the class. I had to tell them to stop "putting me on display". Even though I was met with a chorus of confused looks, these teachers complied.
It was important to me to keep the grades I received to myself. This is because of the impact it had on my friends. The pride they had about their work shone brightly in their eyes. My constant trumping of their grades always squashed their hope to pieces, taking my heart with it. I despised this artificial rivalry with all of my being. What people don't know is that I was fighting a battle inside of me at the same time. Crushed by the weight of my anxiety, self doubt, and depression, I didn't want anyone to feel as unworthy as I did. All I wanted is for my friends and classmates to feel good about themselves since I was a long way from reaching that milestone.
How does this example relate to breaking society's pressure for perfection? Well, you can see that perfection does not have room for everyone. It is not all-inclusive, welcoming, or adaptable. Society's view of perfection expects you to conform to a certain standard that seems to become less and less achievable each year. As some one who was seen as "perfect" in the eyes of the school system, whom has won many academic awards, and has been looked at as a person to praise, I have something to tell you. This whole shebang is propaganda. There is no ultimate supreme grand prize to win at the end of it all. I truly wish that I had been able to spend my school years making close friendships and worrying way less about grades itself. I enjoy my life so much more now being homebound and disabled, than I ever did when I was "perfect".
What can you do to stop focusing on this arbitrary factor? Well, learning how to truly embrace yourself is one of the most difficult things that one can ever do. Why do we deserve such love when we don't reach that high standard? It is a question that people all around the globe face on a daily basis. When it seems like no one loves you, how do you learn to love your beautiful self? In my own journey, this started as self compassion. Self compassion is officially described as, "the extension of kindness, care, warmth, and understanding (instead of beratement and criticism) toward oneself when faced with shortcomings, inadequacies, or failures" (Zamora, Larry C.). This is a beautiful definition giving us a leniency, if you will, to appreciate ourselves and everything about our individuality.
Having a positive and compassionate perspective of ourselves is of course easier said than done. The inner critic inside has been conditioned to point out every single perceived "flaw". Not surprising considering how Oxford Dictionaries describes perfection as "the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects." When we accept this view that society gives us, we are padlocked to this type of rigid thinking. You have to fight against it. Contemplate this quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” You see, living a life chasing perfection does not bring any gain, just complete and utter loss.
Our culture today projects an image of the ideal human being. I couldn't even describe the specific characteristics, because of how widely this standard varies across different civilizations. The important thing to remember is that no matter what mass media projects as the paradigm today or fifty years from now, you are delightful, engaging, alluring, and glorious. All because you have made the choice to break away from being the "model person". You are understanding of everyone's needed flaws. Life would be so boring without them. As Kevyn Aucoin quotes, "Perfection is boring. If a face doesn't have mistakes, it's nothing."
Jordyn C. is a chronically ill and homebound blogger who runs The Chronically Unimaginable blog. She is very involved in the chronic illness, mental health, and disability communities. Jordyn is also an ambassador for the Chronic Disease Coalition, an ambassador for the Riley App, a brand ambassador for Ivye Wear, a contributor for The Mighty, and the resident blogger for the Chronic Love Club. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and her blog.
Citation: Zamora, Larry C. “What Is Self-Compassion.” GoStrengths!, gostrengths.com/what-is-self-compassion/.