The Truth About Perfection
When we were young we were all taught to do our best. We never had to be the best, we just had to try our best. Along the road we took from age seven to however old we are now, that mindset somehow shifted. Now we look at our friends and our followers and see people who are actually the best, the happiest, the healthiest—people who put out into the world an image of perfection layered above a thousand poses and lightroom presets they bought on Etsy.
The thing about perfection is that it isn’t real. It’s perfect. As a society we’ve been normalized so immensely to the idea that we must strive for perfection, even if we never actually reach it. Somehow somewhere we shifted from understanding perfection as something absolutely unattainable—a word originally only used for God—to something that we actively want. Even if we know we will never be perfect, we’re still trying to make ourselves better just to get closer to that ideal.
I think we know that trying to get our bodies to look perfect is wrong. We still do it, but we know it isn’t right. We still enlist in fad diets and miracle detoxes claiming that we’re just resetting ourselves and our digestion, that we’re finally “doing good for our bodies.” We say we’re not doing it to be skinny and that “curves are so in” (how can someone’s body be trendy???), yet we are so socialized to believe that skinny is not only pretty, but it’s healthy, and fat is none of the above. Body image and the norms which we were taught to believe in are so problematic in themselves. I could write an entire blog post on that, but today I am not going to.
Perfection is not just about the way you look, it permeates every aspect of life, especially in mine recently. Everyone on Instagram, on YouTube, and in podcasts lately tries to make it seem as though they have it all together. My issue is with seeing people eat super healthy all the time and working out every single say. It’s weird because you want to be happy for someone else when they have it all figured out, yet you still search for flaws in the hope of seeing a semblance of your own life in theirs. And I know people aren't doing it on purpose and I know I do it myself, but it’s so damaging to everyone that gets caught up in it. When we see people living their lives so perfectly and efficiently, we get self-conscious:
“I don’t crave a big bow of kale every day, do I even really eat healthy?”
“Sometimes I go out to eat and order the most unhealthy item on the menu”
“I eat a lot of ice cream—like almost every single day”
“I’m not gluten-free, dairy free, vegan, or vegetarian…but should I be?”
“I don’t go to the gym every day. I just don’t have the time or the energy. My body gets tired when I don’t take rest day. I perform better when I have a break. Is there something physically wrong with me?”
The reality is this: social media has brought us to a point of toxicity. Everyone, myself included, only wants to share the parts that look the best—the shiny, sparkling highlights of our lives. We only show our food when we feel good about it, we don’t show that 11pm McDonalds. We’re not posting about the days we didn’t work out because everyone would think we’re lazy, right? We’re not sharing the times we sat on the floor crying or when we felt so depressed that we couldn’t even get out of bed—because why would we?
Everyone seems like they have it all together because we’re not sharing these moments. I’m sure many of you think I have it completely together—I eat healthy, I workout, I seem happy—when I feel like I am the farthest thing from put together. I’m not saying we all should start sharing our darkest moments on the internet, I’m saying we need to take Instagram with a grain of salt. Remember that people aren’t posting these things, and if you feel comfortable, open up yourself a little bit and show your flaws and imperfections. That is what I am striving to do. I want to break down the barrier that separates social media from reality and use my platform for good. Even though individuals were never meant to know about the lives of as many people as we do, we can still turn it into a positive thing. There is so much opportunity to share stories and knowledge with each other. We need to strive for that instead of competing for who can look the happiest at the beach. Let’s use social media as a tool to enhance our lives instead of tear them down.