I know many of you struggle with perfectionism as I do. I’ve already written another blog post about it. But lately, I am beginning to understand a bit more about why we women struggle to be perfect.
Now that I am raising a six year-old and a 3 year-old daughter, I am more aware of the messages my daughters are receiving from the general media. Have you noticed how often the word “perfect” shows up in books and movies geared towards little girls?
Book titles such as, “How to have the Perfect Sleepover, “Rapunzel’s Perfect Wedding Day” and “Planning the Perfect Party.” From a young age, our daughters are being fed the idea they need to have a “perfect” everything. Heaven forbid something not go perfectly, or it is ruined. Isn’t that how the story goes?
As a result, women grow up trying to hold up a reality that is far-fetched. We are striving to have perfect homes, perfect relationships, perfect friendships, perfect appearance, perfect body, and perfect careers. When we can’t seem to achieve perfection in all (or any!) of these areas, we feel like failures.
I say enough of the perfect already! Enough of trying to maintain an image of ourselves that is false. Is that what it means to “make a false image?”
Isn’t it much more freeing to allow others to see the real us?
Often we end up hurting others in our striving to be perfect. If you have children, you know who I am talking about.
My brother came over for a visit last week and he shared a story with me about his childhood. Every Sunday morning, after my mom got her three boys dressed and ready for church, she made them sit on the couch and told them not to move.
My brother described the experience as a form of torture for a young boy: put on uncomfortable clothing, sit next to your pesky brothers on an uncomfortable, stiff couch and don’t touch anything or move anywhere. The reason? So the house and the kids would remain in perfect condition. Because my mom spent the previous day cleaning the house, it needed to stay that way. She spend Sunday morning grooming her boys for church, THEY needed to stay that way. And why? So others would know she had it together. She wanted to be the perfect mother, the perfect wife, the perfect daughter.
We have old pictures to prove the story is true. It looks cute in the photo, but from my brother’s point of view, my mom’s drive to achieve perfection was not a pretty picture. He hated it and it robbed the family of joy.
Who is suffering as a result of your perfectionism? Are you hurting yourself? Are you hurting your husband or your kids? Are your co workers getting the brunt of your frustration to be perfect?
Often we don’t even realize how we are pushing others out of our way, ignoring their innocent requests because we have things to do. The to-do list needs our attention, we tell ourselves. And immediately!
It is time to drop the mask. Not one of us is perfect. Not one of us can accomplish our entire to-do list. There will always be more to do.
However, if we let each other see the “real life” picture more often, wouldn’t we all feel better about ourselves? If we took the time to improve our relationships, wouldn’t we all feel more fulfilled?
Instead of pushing people out, let’s invite others in.
If we slowed down enough to listen to how God feels about us, wouldn’t it stop us dead in our tracks?
We are his beloved. He created us. He made us and it was good. He designed us to live in community and in relationships to fulfill his purpose. In order to live in authentic community, we need to shed the layers of fear and let people see us for who we really are.
What is the cost of our perfectionism? You know the answer. I know the answer.
What can we do better, ladies?
Drop the perfect and get real.