We live in a day and age when everything and everyone is expected to be perfect. We are told we need to look a certain way, we need to dress a certain way, be a certain weight, be a certain height, love a certain way, have a relationship a certain way, parent a certain way, live in a certain kind of house and well, to cut a long story short, live a certain way. And of course, almost every one of us strives to attain this illusion of perfection. Given that it is but an illusion, we never reach perfection. At least to the standard it is portrayed. The end result is mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Who dictates these standards of perfection to us? I’d like to blame the media but it had to have stemmed from somewhere for the media to go gung-ho with it.
How many men and women beat themselves up for not having the ‘perfect’ body like the person shown on telly? Apparently for women, size 0 is perfect. After all, why would the media scathingly attack any model or actress who seemed to be less than perfect? And in countries like India, where perfect looks is equal to fair skin. What does that do to the masses that are dark-skinned?
Perfect relationships. Hollywood, Bollywood and every other media loves to show us how perfect relationships ‘should’ be. And you grow up with expectations as ridiculous as ‘there is only one soulmate in the world’ or ‘my partner should say he loves me every few hours’ or ‘my boyfriend should surprise me with breakfast in bed on the weekend’ and ways of how someone should propose to you, yada, yada, yada. And what happens if the guy or girl in real life doesn’t emulate the perfect ideal? The world comes crashing down. There are hardly any fights in a relationship at the movies. Real life though, is different. I think the classic mistake about perfection in relationships is how movies depict that the guy or girl just knows what the other partner wants. If you think about it realistically, how many guys actually know a girl would be happy if they cleaned up after themselves??? Some guys need telling. As do some girls. But Hollywood and Bollywood would like us to believe that relationships work on ESP. And can I just say for the record, the whole perfect notion of one perfect person being out there for each and every individual is nothing short of bullshit. Call me a cynic. But imagine if that one perfect person died (or less morbid, broke up with you). Does that mean you go without love for the rest of your life???
What about parents today? There is so much pressure on them to be the ‘perfect’ parent and raise well-behaved kids and yet juggle work and the house. Mind you, they can’t smack their kids, because no perfect parent would do that. They cannot get frazzled. Because no perfect parent would do that. After all, the media portrays Angelina Jolie as the parent-to-be-emulated with her brood of 6…7…8…I don’t know, I haven’t kept count. And what does a parent of two think? If Jolie can do it, I should be able to do it. I have heard parents tell me that they have tried to manage their oppositional child or their child with attention-deficit problems and can’t seem to do so. To them, telling me that is admitting defeat. Admitting failure. And my heart goes out to these parents. Because they are definitely trying their hardest. And all they need are some more skills to manage their child better but it still doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be setbacks. With all the behaviour management strategies in the world, there will still be days when little Johnny won’t give a shit about rewards and consequences and will continue to be oppositional. And the parent might smack him or yell at him but it doesn’t mean they are bad parents. [I can tell you what a ‘bad’ parent is but that will take a whole other post!] The other pressure for parents is that their children have to be the ever-elusive perfect child. Your child doesn’t attend any tuitions? You’re a bad parent. Your child doesn’t learn the piano/violin/singing/dancing? You’re a bad parent. Your child runs around in the mud and cycles and explores? You’re a bad parent.
Now you know why so many people suffer from mental health problems at least once in their lives.
I wish as a society we would realise that perfection is a myth. No one on this planet is perfect. Not a single person. And trust me, if anyone says they are, they are lying and putting on a facade. Everyone thinks every one else is perfect. I’m sure my clients think I’m perfect and have it all together. Hah! I have admitted to some of my anxious clients about my own social anxiety. And you can see them visibly relax. Almost as if they realise I’m not so perfect after all and I do have issues too!
Striving for that elusive perfection only makes us miserable. It doesn’t mean we have to not care. It doesn’t mean we don’t do our best. We just have different expectations. We can always strive to do the best we can; to be the best we can be. But it doesn’t have to be the same ‘best’ or the ‘perfect’ that is bombarded by the media.
If only more people realised that, we would all be more relaxed and the world would probably be a happier place.
Being perfect in every way is nothing but a facade.
What are your views? Are you one of those individuals who is depressed or anxious in some way for not attaining perfection in any particular area in your life? Do share…
Until next time,