Perfection doesn't exist, first off. Let's make that clear. The only place anything perfect can be found is in the Platonic ideal, floating around in our minds somewhere. More importantly and more interestingly, perfection is pointless. It's a boring, static concept with nothing to offer. No thrills, no party, no memorable stories, no laughs. Perfection isn't funny.
My future husband picked me up at work one day. We were just falling in love and we had a big date. He walked in, we made eye contact, I stood up to greet him - and I stepped on my skirt when I was only partway out of my chair and fell over sideways. Vanished behind my desk. Truly one of my finer moments. I don't know if I've ever laughed harder in my life. "You disappeared!" he said. Imperfect but hilarious. If I had just sat there without a hair out of place, he wouldn't have learned anything about my personality (assuming I had one) and I would have had to live up to that smudge-free image. Forever.
I married someone who knows the real me. The real me does not have the attention span for the pursuit of perfection. The real me is frequently driven to do things like hula hoop while reading, try to teach the dog to jump rope, make up alternate song lyrics, or write an eighty-line epic poem about a shoe. The fruitful pursuit of hilarity is much more interesting than the futile pursuit of perfection.
As a general rule, care more about how something feels than about how it looks. Experience, not image. This is why I wear comfortable shoes. It's also why I'm in a marriage where we laugh a lot, not one where we take selfies a lot. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just that for me, trying to capture a moment in a photograph usually ends with me stressing out about how weird I looked, spoiling the memory and making me self-conscious. Maybe we should get some horse-head masks...
We have a pretty little parrot. Sincerely, she is cuddly and friendly and adorable. She also likes to pick her nose with her toe. I'm constantly battling the feathers and shredded chew toys and dog hair and muddy paw prints and other unspeakable messes. The bird likes to throw food to the dog. Sometimes he catches it in mid-air, but usually not. There is nothing perfect within eight feet of the bird perch, let's just make that clear. But, they make us laugh every day. There are many sweet moments when they smooch each other or take naps together, but usually the moment has passed in a split second. Whenever I get my camera out, they freeze and look at me like NO, DON'T YOU PERFECT ON US. We live in the now, bow wow.
Perfection is about criticism. It starts with self-criticism and quickly leaks out and starts staining everything and everyone in sight. Perfection is about shame. If criticism is a stain, shame is mustard gas. Shame kills. Perfection is about social comparison and envy. Nothing good can come of that. Looking for the humor is looking for the recognition, the surprise, the affection. Funny is endearing. When we add hilarity, we bring connection and understanding. The friendship that can't be made through perfection can be made in an instant through a shared laugh.
When we let go of the nonsensical hunt for perfection, we can relax, and we can free others from our sometimes unfair judgments and standards. Self-compassion ripples outward. We understand that others are no more able to be perfect every single second than we are. One thing I'm working on right now is to catch myself whenever I judge someone else for anything I myself have done. It turns out that that's nearly everything. There are a lot of jokes to be found with this material. Criticism, shame, and perfectionism aren't really all that funny. We can let it all go, and let ourselves go.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.
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