I cannot tell you when or where perfectionism grabbed my attention and captivated my interest because I do not know. I am not aware of any one specific person, event or notion that convinced me that life required me to be supreme, ideal and excellent in all things at all times.
Imperfections are Real
Perhaps I wanted to be perfect because I did not like how I felt when I failed. My failures produced feelings of disappointment in me and in others. My teachers showed their sad faces, my mother voiced a few choice words and I felt less than the least of all human beings when I did not make the grade, the mark or win the prize.
I concluded that if failure was awful, then not failing must be wonderful. And so began my trek toward not failing, also known as being perfect.
First, I began with me and my outward appearance. What was the perfect physique? I chose the image of Twiggy, a model from a teen magazine. She weighed about as much as a twig. Unrealistic? Yes, but nonetheless, I took drastic steps toward this picture perfect figure even after my body was altered by my first pregnancy. Then a concerned friend spoke words to me that made sense. “By the way, need I point out that you are not a twig? Is it not obvious that your body is in the business of bearing children?” And so, I let go of that image and found a better one; me being healthy.
The second icon of perfectionism I adopted was that of the perfect mother. She was calm, cool and collected at all times. She was June Cleaver, the mother on Leave it to Beaver. She was beautiful at all times, content with baking a blue ribbon meatloaf and never ever rolling her eyes at anything her family said or did. I threw this image out our front door twice. Once when our second child was born and the other time when our first born became a teenager. Lucky for my last born, I was much less perfect.
I started out to be the perfect wife, but for some reason it was short lived. Perhaps it is because my husband loved me from the get go. For some reason or another he accepted me in all my non-glory. No one ever explained to me the magical difference love makes in one’s life. Instead, I stumbled upon it, on my own, in our marriage.
Through my season of child bearing and plumpness, despite the rise of impatience and anger while raising Cain, Able and Enoch, and through the years of unbelief in his true love for me, his constant love altered my perception of myself. I really did not have to be perfect. He loved me anyway.
Why bother dethroning perfectionism? Perfectionism is a lot like smoking, it is a slow and painful way to die. Besides, being perfect means we are not really real because real people are really imperfect.