Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Being Perfect...Or Not

If I can take the time to slow the eff down, I learn a lot from my children. Here was yesterday’s conversation with 10 year old Emma when I picked her up from school (don’t the best conversations happen in the car??):

Emma: Gertrude* wasn’t at school today. It was nice.
Me: Why was it nice? I thought you guys were friends.
Emma: We are friends. It was nice because she wasn’t there to…to…be so perfect.

I laughed out loud (LOL, but not LMFAO) because I could relate. I have been known to breathe a sigh of relief when the “perfect” person doesn’t show up too.

I know this girl, Gertrude. Emma perceives this kid as having it all: smarts, beauty, the “right” clothes. She is the girl all the boys like. She makes life seem effortless and easy. I can tell she unintentionally makes Emma feel inferior.

Me: (trying to be a supportive mom who says the “perfect” thing): Well, there are many pretty “perfect” things about you too.
Emma: But, I don’t want to be perfect. It’s boring. It’s not real.

BINGO!! She is my teacher disguised in a butterfly shirt, cropped pants and knock off Ugg boots. How the hell did she get to be so smart? How did she learn this at the age of 10? I’d like to say she learned it from me, but I doubt it.

As if the goal should ever be to be perfect. What an illusionary crock of shit. What looks like “perfect” to you or me is never what meets the eye. There is no “perfect” out there.

This is what gets so many of us in trouble: we compare ourselves with others. We under value ourselves. Just yesterday I had a  personal situation in my life that for some reason shook me to the core. It played on every insecurity I had. In fact, it punched me in the gut and blatantly reminded me that seeking external approval and praise will never ever fulfill me. I have to get behind myself. It sounds simple and very, very corny but I need to love who I am – imperfections and all. I swear that only by grasping and living this concept will I ever be free to be my best self. Told you it was corny.

Here are my top 6 reasons that being perfect sucks (I could do 5 or 10 reasons but that would be too “perfect”):

  1. It makes you inaccessible to people. They cannot relate to you when you do and say everything right. People connect more with people who they see as having vulnerabilities.
  2. It is boring. If you are perfect, what are you striving for?
  3. It is isolating. See point point #1.
  4. You’ll never have any good stories to tell on your blog because you never crap yourself, have a wardrobe malfunction or fart during a final exam.
  5. People just don’t like you that much. It’s annoying.
  6. It is too hard to keep up. If you are that pretty, athletic, popular, smart, etc. you have an image to uphold. It takes a lot of work and is damn stressful. I don’t know this for sure because I’ve never been perfect, but it’s my guess.

The ironic thing is that in all of our imperfection, we are actually just perfect. Now I’m talking out of my ass. But you know what I mean.

Now go have an imperfect day in your imperfect body, driving your imperfect car, picking your imperfect nose. It’s fun!

P1120109

SUAR

*Name has been changed to protect the very innocent, perfect ones.

79 comments:

  1. haha, thanks for the reminder! Trying to be perfect at everything... especially school has been stressful... doing my best is good enough!

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  2. YES!!! Laughing, SMILING and Shaking my head in agreement! THANK YOU for giving us permission to NOT be perfect Beth!!!

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  3. I had an imperfect run today that DEFINITELY reminded me of this!

    Btw, you must be doing something awesomely right with your kids if they have this kind of insight at age 10. Your parenting, for the win :)

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    1. Thanks or saying that. What an amazing compliment.

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  4. I must be really, really interesting then... HAH.

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  5. I could not have had more of an imperfect day!! Hoorah - I would't know how to cope with perfect!! :)

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  6. It sounds like you are talking about the entire Washington DC area. No one farts, gets a full on bikini wax, enjoys wild sex, cusses or talks about anything other than the weather (even the weather is boring here). I moved here and felt like every person was just trying to out do one another. I have found my group of "real" people and really have come to to see that many of the "keep up with the Jone's" people are horribly sad and lonely, as you say. I really do have compassion for them, give them a silent blessing, silent goodbye and keep my wax, sex, cussing stories to the people I trust.

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  7. I'm perfectly capable of injuring most any part of my body with nearly zero effort. Does that count?

    Very enlightened child you have there - I'm jealous.

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  8. LOVED THIS!
    I missed the start of the Rock 'n' Roll NOLA half marathon by almost an hour (combination of a major misprint in the event guide and my not double-checking the start time). I was livid at first. But the more time passes, the more I realize that the whole debacle makes one FANTASTIC STORY.

    And I've always wanted to live a life filled with funny stories.
    Perfect isn't story-worthy.

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  9. So very true....we could all use this reminder :)

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  10. GREAT post! And please thank Emma for being the "perfect" example of what it means to be totally aware of yourself AND be thankful that you're not perfect.

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  11. I know absolutely nothing about being perfect. Whew!

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  12. Perfectly Stated!! ;)
    Rock on, Emma!

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  13. I love it! It is so boring to be perfect. I tell my kids all the time, "Good thing God makes us all so different otherwise life would be so boring"! I love that your daughter is so smart about these things:) Good job teaching her!

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  14. Out of the mouths of babes...that is awesome and you should be very proud of her! I was watching the Bachelor Women Tell All show last night (I know, I know, garbage TV) and amidst all of the cat fights among these 12 turned 25 year old women, there was one word of wisdom spoken. When asked about Ben's decision to let Nicki, one of the women on the show, go home, she said, "I fell hard, really hard...I was shocked. I had no clue it was coming." But, she said, "I would never ask him what I did wrong because I was myself!" Yay for some strong women!

    I have recently come to ACCEPT some of my imperfections. A friend took a picture of me at a race and I have always LOATHED my thunder thighs...but for some reason (and even though they still looked big), I saw strength and beauty in them...perfectly imperfect me!

    Thank you for this post today! :)

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    1. I saw that on the Bachelor and thought it was the best comment of the night. Probably of the entire twenty million seasons!!

      Accepting our imperfections is the way to inner peace, I am convinced.

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  15. You have pefect hair and you know it! Thanks for the smiles and lots of laughs as well.

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  16. I totally agree... but what do you do if you're so freakin' imperfect it's unbelievable, but people think you're perfect? I'm being serious here... I never try to come across as perfect, but because of some of the things I do (photography, run, play the violin, etc.) I have some of those negative consequences. Help!

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  17. Emma has it ALL going on. She is so grounded and ...well... cool :)

    I am so glad to finally know why people don't like me and why I feel so isolated and why I have been so stressed out my whole life... I'm perfect! Whew...

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  18. Did you clean up the blog layout? Looks good! And that pic of you running in the top right is extremely badass. It made me think of Sarah Connor from the Terminator movies - BADASS!

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    1. I like this picture because it shows off my perfect flat chestedness.

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  19. Best post yet Beth! I've been waiting for a moment to read this because from what I saw at first glance, it hits the nail on the head when it comes to how I feel. BRAVO! So well said to. Perfect is effin borning. BORING. And fake!! because nobody is perfect. When I get around "perfect" people I want to just say FUCK. excuse my bad language but really, I find myself hard to control. My filter goes from Broken to smashed to smitherynes (however the eff you spell that word). Oh, and I'm drinking wine so now I'm even more UNperfect in those PERFECT's eyes. Ha! Okay, now I might be coming back to delete this before I lose anymore followers for using the F word on the most perfectly popular running blog around. Crap. Seriously though, Perfect people are EXHAUSTING and draining and gosh, it is nice when they skip a day of school. I'm sure I have played the perfect role according to some people but anyone that really knows me, knows that I embrace REALLLLLL! BTw, I am so very curious what this situation was that struck such a cord with you this week. Do tell. And how do you have the reply option on here? Do tell that too . Please. Everyone has it except me. My blog is going to hell.

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    1. Beth taught me how to do the reply feature...here is an excerpt from that lesson...

      Within Blogger, go to settings -> comments

      Under comment location make sure it says "embedded"

      Under Show back links make sure it says "show"

      Beth is awesome :)

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    2. Do what "X" said and it will work. Perfectly!!!

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    3. ooooh, thank you! And sorry for the wine-induced essay above. I'm all good now. Not perfect. But perfectly able to run and drive a car. :)

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    4. ROFL @ both Amanda and Beth on this post!!!

      Beth, LMFAO @ #4. I love me some good non-perfect stories.

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    5. Amanda I love the wine induced ranting!!!

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  20. Well said :) I recently found your blog and I love your honesty and no bullshit attitude.. Its awesome! Obviously your daughter is following your great example- which is truly inspiring at such a young age.

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  21. I LOVE Emma and her wisdom! I'm so happy that she knows this at age 10 and I'm only learning this at age 49. It will save her a lot of pain!

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  22. Thanks to you and Emma for the great wisdom today. I have been spending a lot of time hating myself for being "less than" the people around me and I needed to hear this!

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  23. I love that the name you changed to was Gertrude lol

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  24. Haha this made me seriously laugh. I've come to terms in the last year that trying to be perfect does not mean being happy. I must say point number four was a really good one. Perfect people rarely have good stories lol.

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  25. Your daughter is definitely a smart girl. Thanks to both of you for this reminder!

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  26. Half the "perfect" people i know are divorced, in re-hab for porn, on prozac or hold their farts during exams. Who want to be THAT? I'd rather be picking my nose. Thanks SUAR!

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    1. Well said, ain't that the truth!! If I went to rehab, I would fart during group therapy.

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  27. Ah. That's what I've been doing wrong... it's all my perfection driving people away... hahahahaha. As if. :) Actually I get accused of having a perfect life ALL the time. But really I'm just incredibly guarded of my incredibly messy life. So I just don't let everyone in on the dirt. I'm pretty sure that makes me pretty inaccessible to the hoards of a-holes in the world. But I'm also perfectly content with that. Rest assured if I let you in my life you are totally awesome.

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  28. Bree Shields, SingaporeMarch 6, 2012 at 10:49 PM

    It's sad how often we must be reminded of this....UGH! Thanks for posting (and by the way, EXCELLENT nose picking skills---I am...just a little jealous :)

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  29. Funny and ridiculously spot on!

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  30. What a wise girl you have there!! I hope my Emma is as wise as yours when she turns 10!

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  31. This is what I needed to read today :) Thanks!

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  32. Well, I for one love being perfect, it's who I am. KIDDING.

    The perfect person just really doesn't exist and if they think they are, they are fooling themselves and everyone around them. Everyone has shit in their life.

    I have no desire to be perfect; I just want to happy with myself and that's all that matters.

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  33. Freaking love Emma.
    Love this post.

    Perfect is overrated.

    Seriously - I have ok HAD a friend who drove me absolutely nuts being "perfect". [see #4] She was stressed all the freaking time.

    She [NO JOKE] asked me one day, "How are you so happy when your life is so IMPERFECT?"

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  34. @Emz - Good riddance to that kinda friend.

    Great post! I have no problem with imperfection. We are GREAT friends!
    I'm hardly the fastest and never been the strongest and to be honest, I don't try to be. But I'm happy and I've never been injured (thank you, Jesus!).

    I'm just out there to have fun have an imperfectly good time.

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  35. Smart kid--no surprise considering her mother, though. Perfection is highly overrated, in my book, for all the reasons you listed and more. Boring, unreal, isolating, and just plain irritating to the rest of us mortals. I am SO far from perfect; I can fall going UP the stairs, not just DOWN! Thanks for the laugh and the reminder this morning, Beth!

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  36. Actually you are not far off in sayint that sometimes our imperfections actually make us perfect. An Exercise Physiologist I know who lectures often on the topic of healthy weight at the health resort I work at has often said that our bodies are actually perfectly balanced for the circumstances we give it. The only way to affect it is to change someting that we give it in order to create a new balance that is more in favor of what we want. To say just "shut up and run" is one way to upset that balance for some people! So, you can actually say that your body is absolutly perfect, it is an amazing balance of what you put out and what you put in.

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  37. And by the way, who says that the person we view as perfect is really all that perfect? Perfect in whose view? Probably our own and probably due to something that just annoys us about them. Who says that this "perfect" person really thinks they are that perfect - even if they appear to think that I would be willing to bet its just a front for a flaw they are not willing to reveal. I would bet that if you looked deeper into who they are or the world they live in it is not as perfect as we might think.

    Just something different to think about.

    And, by the way, you have an amazingly insightful kid there.

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    1. I didn't say that the people who we think are "perfect" or "have it all" think that way about themselves. I just said it was our perspective.

      And yes, no one has to shut up and run if they don't want to. We all have free will and can pick and choose. Just like we don't have to read blogs we don't like.

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    2. I think they we were both saying the same thing just in a different way. and I LOVE reading your blog, it's the only one that I take the time to read every single entry.

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    3. yes, now that I look back at it, we ARE saying the same thing. Thanks for reading!!

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  38. Is being Perfect the same as being the Best?

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  39. Not being perfect is so ... refreshing. Great post.

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  40. #5--love it. I'm reading Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom right now--this plays in beautifully to it. Seriously, those poor kids.

    Way to go, Emma!

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    1. Yes, I loved that book. Just reminded me of what not to do.

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  41. Yes yes! This is why i love you so much and your kids are going to be confident rock stars!!

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  42. Just ordered the perfect temperature coffee.....140*......oh so perfect.

    Seriously, f*ck people. I mean who wants to be perfect and liked by EVERYBODY. Who would we argue with? Who would we ask for thoughts and ideas? Where would we turn if we had it all. Those that think they do are full of sh*t.

    I have got it all and it involves my theory of perfect. A wife who was once married but got divorced married to a man who was married to another woman before and lived in New York. Found his way to Dallas and wound up with a step-son. Perfect? Damn straight it is.

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  43. Love love love this post! You hit the nail on the head! Or your daughter did! She is wise beyond her years!

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  44. Great post! I grew up with many girls who were wealthy, pretty and completely perfect in my eyes. Only as adults did they actually let on that they were just as imperfect as the rest of us! Now that I am in my 40's do I not give a shit about perfection. I try to be put together, but my hair has a mind of it's own. I run a trail and trip and swear like a sailor. I am happy with my dorky, imperfect self and love that my friends aren't perfect either!

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  45. I think Mindy has a good point!

    I'm not perfect either, nor do I think I'm perceived as perfect. I do however feel sort of bad for the people who are burdened with all those "reasons being perfect sucks", just because of other people's perception of them.

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  46. So THAT'S why people don't like me :P

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  47. LOVE this post!! And I love not being perfect!! In fact, I just realized that my deodorant has been in my suitcase since Sunday and today is Wednesday night! I should probably apologize to my coworkers!! :)

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  48. LOVE, love, love this post!

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  49. Love your blog =)

    Here's my take on the perfection illusion: I have known people who appear pretty darn dear perfect in my eyes, and it is usually because they had achieved or were excelling in something I hadn't quite mastered. So my perception of them being perfect was really just an unfair judgment against MYSELF. None of these people had that "air of perfection" or thought they were perfect - yet could always point out things they could improve on - it was just that those things weren't what I was judging them on when I judged them as perfect. They were/are also the people that tend to be happy people, which is probably part of why I perceived them as perfect in the first place. It has taken me a long time to learn the great lesson that everything in life doesn't have to be perfect in order for me to be happy. However, I also learned that when you appear happy (even in spite of imperfect circumstances), some people will still judge you as perfect because they (like I) will mistake the choice to live a happy life in spite of imperfections as perfection itself.

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    1. P.S. I know I already commented above, but just had been thinking more on the topic and wanted to chime in again. Thanks again for the thought provoking post. :)

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    2. I like your take on this a lot - anytime I am "jealous" of someone I look at my self and try to figure out what it is I think that I am lacking. It is rarely about the other person. It is usually about us.

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  50. Lately I have definitely found myself feeling inferior to other, particularly as a mom. Every time I feel this way I look at myself trying to figure out what it is about it that is making me feel that way. Sometimes I can pinpoint it and other times I can't, so I continue being my imperfect self. Imperfection can be pretty great!

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    1. I think the "mom" thing is really tough. It is so easy to feel like we aren't doing it right and that every one else has the answers. Not true!! Parenting is not measurable - you can say you ran 5 miles today, but you can't quantify what it means to be a good parents. You are on the right track - it's okay to be an imperfect parent. We all are!

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  51. I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely LOVE reading your blogs!! You are so down to earth, your hilarious, your not afraid to speak your mind, you don't care what others think or if their judging you... and I just LOVED this post! Thank You!

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  52. As a mother of two girls I especially loved this post. I hope both my ladies will learn that trying to be perfect isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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  53. One of your most perfect - I mean, BEST posts ever! Love it!

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  54. Late to the game, but thanks for this post. I have to give myself an ass-kicking about 3 times a day for picking myself apart. This time last year I was 40 pounds heavier and 4 sizes larger. Why the heck am I not just enjoying how much easier everything in my life is from running to hauling in the groceries? No, instead I'm griping because my size 6s look funny in the butt or droopy in the knees. Good grief! You are so right that there is no perfect.

    And Emma, you are rocking the right attitude!

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  55. I always tell my 10-year-old daughter that true beauty lies in imperfections and people who are willing to show that side of themselves. Those are the people you want to be friends with.

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  56. You have a very smart kid indeed.. I always learn what's important thru my kids. They give a lot of insight and they are real with what they feel and think. Being Perfect is not Being Happy and a lot of us knows this..because we all go through with it! Great Share!

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