It doesn’t matter how many times I see this quote, I always feel the need to share it with others. I wish I could say that with my experience in yoga and mindfulness that I lived this quote inside and out but it just isn’t true. I constantly feel the pressure of perfection as so many of you likely do too.
Perfectionism is a personality trait that can be all-consuming and make it nearly impossible to feel happy. It can be hard to accept anything less than perfection and cause an individual to be highly critical of themselves and others. And, as Sperry and Connelly write in Mental Health & Mental Disorders, “[it makes] some believe their accomplishments are never good enough.“
Perfectionism has been around for a very long time but we are living it today at an entirely different level. More than ever before, we are disconnected from the messy and complicated inner workings of other peoples’ lives. How often does someone pop by for a cup of tea and see the house in disarray? How likely are we to share that we are feeling hopeless on social media? How comfortable would you feel posting a picture of the note you got home from school about your child’s behaviour?
The point is that beneath the glossy perfection of what we see on the outside, everyone is struggling with something. But I think it’s very hard for that message to sink in until you realize that people may be thinking that what they see of YOUR life is somehow perfect.
Is it wrong that we try to share only the positive aspects of our lives? Do we owe it to others to share the chaotic and messy moments?
On the one hand I recognize the need to be honest and not set up unrealistic expectations of a life that is without struggle. On the other hand, I like to be positive and not focusing myself on the unhappier parts of life; not to ignore them, but to avoid dwelling on things that maybe I have no control over (see image above!)
There are times when I will try to post something funny like my littlest having a tantrum but I definitely would not feel comfortable sharing a more private moment of angst that a child may be feeling, unless it was with a close friend.
Maybe having deeper conversations with those closest to us about our struggles would help more than changing up what we share on social media or how we appear to the world. When I am able to text my friend and vent, finding out that other people are also having a crummy week, I feel less alone. On days when I feel like the worse mother in the world, it helps to hear from a friend that her kids are also constantly fighting.
As my older sister says simply: “Everyone has something”. I’m very grateful to her for keeping me grounded and reminding me of that. It also helps create empathy for the unseen struggles of those around us.
Because you know I love a good Kate Bowler quote, I’ll finish with her words: “blessed are all of us who struggle, for we are in good company, and we’ll never walk alone.”
Sperry, Len, MD, PhD, and Jeremy Connelly MEd. “Perfectionism.” Mental Health and Mental Disorders: An Encyclopedia of Conditions, Treatments, and Well-Being, edited by Len Sperry, vol. 2, Greenwood, 2016, pp. 824–25. Gale eBooks, Gale, https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/CX6403700611/GVRL?sid=bookmark-GVRL&xid=c2ac4e8a.