I find myself thinking about perfection.
As I sat in the audience watching my daughter perform in her recital, I caught myself hoping
that she'd have a perfect routine...dance after dance. This wasn't a selfish thought on my part...so she would be considered one of the "best" dancers... and I could float on motherly pride like mothers can't help doing sometimes. This was a protective thought. She's my daughter and I love her unconditionally. But the world frowns on anything less than perfection...especially in the performing arts and sports.
I was hoping for perfection to spare her from the disappointment of the audience, her teachers and fellow dancers. The truth is, she can never be a "perfect" dancer in the eyes of the world. She is double jointed in nearly every joint which causes them to over-flex. and appear crooked. She'll never have the perfect turn-out. Her turns aren't "perfect" because her legs are never "perfectly" straight. She tires easier than most because her joints are so loose. The ways this "imperfection" affect her dancing are numerous. It doesn't stop her from loving dance...but it sometimes takes some of the joy away in small ways...and that's sad.
So, I find myself thinking about perfection. We can say that we don't worry about or expect perfection...but in reality this drive for perfection affects all of us. The level of stress we all carry related to perfection is crazy. It starts at birth...but really takes hold in school.
The perfect choice of school courses...to get
the perfect grades...and
the perfect extracurricular activities to be perfect in...while being in
the perfect clique...while all along wearing
the perfect clothes...maintaining
the perfect weight...getting into
the perfect college...meeting
the perfect spouse...living in
the perfect neighborhood...with
the perfect house and car...having
the perfect stuff... meeting
the perfect friends... to have
the perfect bbq's and block parties...and raising
the perfect children...who will go to
the perfect school...become
the perfect student...and
the perfect athlete...
the perfect...the perfect...the perfect
You can opt out of this race...but someone along the road will make you feel less than perfect for not trying. Ask any mother who forgot to bring in treats for the preschool class.
There can only be one "winner" ... one idol...survivor..next top model...and we're all obsessed with it.
The problem with this is that no one can be perfect in all these areas… or even one. So, most of us are left feeling constant disappointment...unless we make a conscience effort to think otherwise. The expectation, the competition and the disappointment are there at some point…in everyone’s life. The media and advertising will confirm this. They are quick to tell us who is better and how we can achieve the same “success.”
The real problem is the value we place on perfection. Instead of looking at these accomplishments as exceptions and anomalies… somehow we’ve turned them into comparisons and impossible goals.
We admire the pro football player, the movie star, the Olympic athlete, the stick thin model, the perfect SAT score, the Princeton graduate…the person who looks 25 at age 50…but these are exceptions. We put excessive importance on these accomplishments.
Sometimes, the price of perfection is high. Steroid use…anorexia…cheating…excessive plastic surgery… alcoholism...drug abuse...suicide...
Life is short. Don’t worry or expect perfection in yourself or others.
Look beyond the limitations.
Reach out in kindness.
Make a choice to value the individual.
But most of all...
Enjoy the dance.