Life lessons

Perfection

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,

Cheers!!!

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  • Reply
    Smitha
    September 30, 2010 at 11:35 am

    Couldn’t agree more PB. Right from the way we look, to what we own, to being parents.. We do seem to have alot of perfection to work for.. And I think all this just adds to the stress and unhappiness, leading to far from perfect lifestyles.. As far as all of us decide what we want for ourselves, and work accordingly, it would be fine, instead of letting society set standards that we are expected to adhere to..

  • Reply
    pallavi
    September 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Excellent post PB.

    I grew up feeling depressed about not being perfect. As a mother, I now realise, that what we need in life is not perfection but just to be normal.. average is my new perfect 😉

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    September 30, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    Agree. And agree more. 🙂

    The perfect body image…the perfect looks, like a model or whatever – why strive for that instead of maintaining a healthy body image? Isn’t that more important?

    And the way relationships are portrayed in some movies, etc…don’t even get me started – soulmates? really? Every relationship takes work…relationships, of any kind, need nurturing – one has to be ready to put in so much efforts into the given relationship to make it work, to make it last, to make it worthwhile…it isn’t magic that it will happen o its own.

    No comments about parenting…not much experience there 🙂

  • Reply
    Susan Deborah
    September 30, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    This post depicts the start reality of the urban crowd. I am glad that some pockets of our society steers clear of all these diktats. The place where I teach is a rural one and I am so so glad to see the relative absence of sheen and frills and all other trappings of our metros and other cities.
    As I always like to say: Perfection is always in degrees. There is nothing as absolute perfection.

    Hope you are well and that your day was swimming!

    Joy and love always,
    Susan

  • Reply
    Arundhati
    September 30, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Awesome post.

    If people just realised this, their insecurities would vanish, they would be comfortable with who they are, and yet strive to be better everyday. And they would be better persons. Atleast thats what it did to me.

    ‘no one is perfect’ in my post on mommy guilt – http://arundhativ.blogspot.com/2010/06/mommy-guilt-or-lack-thereof.html

  • Reply
    The Ketchup Girl
    October 1, 2010 at 1:37 am

    to me perfection is relative. I strive to be perfect too, but my definition of perfection might be different from the ‘norm’. i think its good to give your best, but thats about it.

  • Reply
    starry eyed
    October 1, 2010 at 3:34 am

    OH MAN!!!! Thanks for writing this, it’s been on my mind a long long time!!!

    I think a good deal is in our minds and socially reinforced, but I do feel the media has a big role in reinforcing it ad nauseum! The few times I get near a TV, I am simply horrifed at the overt pressure to be fair, slim, rich, married with 2 kids, and a hig-paying job, good looking husband, perfect family relationships, perfect health and on and on.

    And your para on the pressure on parents was oddly comforting. Please do write that post on ‘bad’ parents so I can comfort myself I’m not one!!!!

  • Reply
    Carly {Creator of We Heart Life}
    October 1, 2010 at 3:46 am

    I adore this post! I have referred to it too!

    I think that the media has a lot of explaining to do..

    {written about on http://weheartlife.com xx}

  • Reply
    Dew
    October 1, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Loved this post!! So true… I guess expecting itself is inappropriate!!!

  • Reply
    celestialrays
    October 1, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    That was a very good post PB. I guess perfection should be in comparison to yourself(like in some cases, a past performance), not others. The minute you start comparing yourself to others, is the minute you start losing it 🙂

  • Reply
    Nalini Hebbar
    October 2, 2010 at 3:54 am

    Wonderful post!
    Being dyslexic I was the most imperfect being on earth for my family and the school…it made me revolt in anger till I realized that there was nothing in this world I couldn’t do better than the guy next door…that’s when I blossomed into what I am today. I realized very early that I needed to please only myself, I needed to set my own standards and rise above them. I care for people and not what they think of me…everybody has an opinion and has a right to express it…and you have a right to follow your conscience.

  • Reply
    Arpana
    October 2, 2010 at 7:09 am

    Seeking perfection in everything beyond limit is a disease than the habit. Happiness do matter in life but it can be harnessed with self satisfaction rather always finding in people words.

  • Reply
    Journomuse
    October 2, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    but you just managed a perfect post, dearie…striving for perfection is not bad as long as you arent beating yourself and other to death over it, is my take..:) what say?

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 2, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    @ Smitha: Exactly! We need to decide what we want without being pressured by what society says we should do…that’s probably the only way we are going to be able to lead a less stressful life.

    @ Pallavi: I think we can all empathise with you…I too have had a hard time coming to terms that I wasn’t ‘perfect’. But in the last couple of years or so, I think my eyes were opened. Thanks to work I suppose where every client thinks everyone else is ‘normal’ and ‘perfect’ which made me realise how much we all fake it because we want to be perceived as ‘perfect’

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 3, 2010 at 1:43 am

    @ Titaxy: Tell me about it…the whole soulmate thing gets me so annoyed! And I know a few people who actually believe in that whole thing about there being one perfect person out there for you and they worry that the person may have come and gone and now it’s all over….sigh. And I agree that a body image should be about health rather than the ‘norm’. As for parenting, the only reason I know about it is because of the parents I see.

    @ Susan: You’re right…it’s probably a lot more rampant in the urban world again possibly due to the media. There is nothing like absolute perfection — I completely agree! We can all strive to do our own personal best but trying that elusive absolute perfection is what makes most of us unhappy I suppose. Hope you are well Susan! =)

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 3, 2010 at 2:02 am

    @ Arundhati: Welcome to my blog! You’re spot on! =) And I read your post and it’s so refreshing! Do keep visiting!

    @ KG: And that’s exactly the point…we get too stuck in trying to be perfect as to what we think is perfect based on societal norms. Rather, if we just strive to do our own personal best, we’d probably be a lot happier.

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 3, 2010 at 3:14 am

    @ Starry: I wanted to refrain from blaming the media entirely but you’ve put it well. It starts with society and is reinforced a zillion times by the media and not necessarily just the news. I blame films and tv serials wholeheartedly. Even though they try and show ‘dysfunctional’ characters on telly, they still end up being perfect after all. And I will talk about the really bad parents soon…honestly, I don’t think you should beat yourself up…there’s so many parents that are truly bad…the ones that abuse their kids for instance. Anyway, more on that later! 🙂

    @ Carly: Yep, the media sure have a lot of explaining to do! Movies, telly shows, news channels….the whole shebang! =S

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 3, 2010 at 3:31 am

    @ Dew: Thank you! 🙂 I guess it’s how and what we expect more than expecting itself. For instance, I expect to do my job well and to do the best I can for my clients…but that’s different from trying to be a ‘perfect’ therapist…which doesn’t exist! 🙂

    @ Celestial: You’re right. Any comparison and striving for ‘perfection’ should be done against our own achievements and not what we think society wants. We should want to do our own very best…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    October 3, 2010 at 4:03 am

    @ Nalini: Welcome to my blog! I can totally understand that it must have been 10 times harder for you as with most people with any form of learning difficulty. After all, society and media love to portray everyone as perfect and anyone with any form of difficulty or disability doesn’t feature in that. I’m glad you were able to realise that it’s your own views that count and are happier now as a result of it! =)

    @ Arpana: Welcome to this space! You’ve put it very well in your comment…seeking that elusive absolute perfection can become a disease and a bad habit! We really need to not fall prey to the societal expectations…

    @ Journomouse: Haha thanks! =) I think it’s how we define perfection as well that matters…there is no absolute perfection I reckon but it’s different if we strive to each do our own individual best in life…don’t you reckon?

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

    @ Smitha: Exactly! We need to decide what we want without being pressured by what society says we should do…that’s probably the only way we are going to be able to lead a less stressful life.

    @ Pallavi: I think we can all empathise with you…I too have had a hard time coming to terms that I wasn’t ‘perfect’. But in the last couple of years or so, I think my eyes were opened. Thanks to work I suppose where every client thinks everyone else is ‘normal’ and ‘perfect’ which made me realise how much we all fake it because we want to be perceived as ‘perfect’

  • Reply
    Nalini Hebbar
    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Wonderful post!
    Being dyslexic I was the most imperfect being on earth for my family and the school…it made me revolt in anger till I realized that there was nothing in this world I couldn’t do better than the guy next door…that’s when I blossomed into what I am today. I realized very early that I needed to please only myself, I needed to set my own standards and rise above them. I care for people and not what they think of me…everybody has an opinion and has a right to express it…and you have a right to follow your conscience.

  • Reply
    Dew
    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Loved this post!! So true… I guess expecting itself is inappropriate!!!

  • Reply
    Titaxy
    December 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

    Agree. And agree more. 🙂

    The perfect body image…the perfect looks, like a model or whatever – why strive for that instead of maintaining a healthy body image? Isn’t that more important?

    And the way relationships are portrayed in some movies, etc…don’t even get me started – soulmates? really? Every relationship takes work…relationships, of any kind, need nurturing – one has to be ready to put in so much efforts into the given relationship to make it work, to make it last, to make it worthwhile…it isn’t magic that it will happen o its own.

    No comments about parenting…not much experience there 🙂

  • Reply
    BlueMist
    June 9, 2011 at 5:58 am

    I think it is more of setting stereo type than being perfect. I strive to achieve perfection but crieteria for that would be set by me not by some one else.
    and about stereo types; I love to break the moulds 😛

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    June 9, 2011 at 8:43 am

    True…it is this idea of perfection that is elusive. We can all strive to
    be our very best…but I doubt we can be perfect.

  • Reply
    Deepthi
    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    Hey PB…This is too good 🙂 🙂 ..I haven’t ever thought of some points you have mentioned above..I so agree with the media thing you mentioned,isn’t that the core reason to many problems we face…

  • Reply
    Psych Babbler
    November 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

    Thanks Deepthi…striving for that elusive perfection does appear to be the core to many problems…in most of my clients that seems to be an idea that they have to perfect resulting in depression or anxiety or self-harm…

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