Recently, I’ve been really struggling with the things about myself that are not “perfect”. I don’t know if it’s the fact that, being stuck at home, there is just more time to think about these things. I noticed that pre-coronavirus I would worry more about the imperfections in my life in general – but while most of our lives are on hold, it can be very easy to turn on ourselves instead…
I just wanted to say that most of what I’m about to write is focused on my issues with physical imperfections – it’s just something in particular that I worry about. I really hope it might resonate with you if that’s something you struggle with too. But also I think this can apply to any kind of imperfection you worry about – whether it’s to do with your character, your performance, your work, etc.
I’m naturally cautious and over-analytical, so I feel like my brain is programmed to notice when things “aren’t right”. Things that are dangerous or imperfect just stick out to me really easily, and unfortunately this applies to myself as well. I’ve realised that I feel not only irritated by, but really ashamed of, my imperfections. When they’re exposed I feel so anxious. I particularly obsess over imperfections in the way I look – my weight, my body, my face, my hair, my skin, my clothes. It can even get to the point where I’ll obsess over really random or silly things I don’t like, like the shape of some of my teeth(?!) or how round my face is. It can be consuming and debilitating, cause a lot of unnecessary tears, and put a strain on those around me. I hate the way I can become overwhelmed by such “shallow” things, but it’s not always easy to step back from it.
Getting to the point that you’re obsessing or worrying about imperfections is more than just feeling a bit insecure. If I have latched onto an imperfection, people giving me compliments doesn’t really make any difference. It doesn’t help if someone says “You’re crazy, I love your hair” or “You’re tiny” or whatever else. Because it’s not really to do with needing a confidence boost. The issue is that, if there is something I perceive as bad, it’s all I can think about. Sure, someone might look at my hair and think it’s nice, but when I look at it all I can focus on is that it’s fine and flat, and there’s nothing I can do to change that. It’s not even that I can’t see the good things about my hair, it’s just that I’ve also seen something bad, and the bad thing becomes 100 times bigger than any of the good things. This is, of course, so unhealthy, because the only way you’d ever feel okay is if every single imperfection was eliminated (which is impossible).
People often say you should only judge yourself in the way that you would judge a friend. You’d never give a friend this much grief about all of their minor imperfections. You probably don’t even see their imperfections as imperfections, just as body parts or characteristics. But I don’t think it’s about that. I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to monitor or worry about other people’s imperfections, but it is my responsibility to worry about my own. Perhaps obsessively worrying about your imperfections is sometimes a case of ‘self monitoring’ and ‘self maintenance’ that has gone into overdrive. I want to be aware of how I look so that I can take care of myself. But this can so easily become unhealthy, as I end up striving for something which is simply unattainable.
I think that many of us chase perfection to an extent. People like things that are perfect – we like looking at things that are perfect. We like to see perfect photos of perfect models, perfect beaches and perfect homes. We search for perfect sunsets and perfect music. Many of the amazing material things in this world are created by perfectionists. But we’ve got to remember that the things we TRULY love and connect with in life are imperfect things. Nobody in my family is “perfect”, but I love them all unconditionally (and even more so for their imperfections). Things that are perfect are just moments where everything has come together nicely – a golden sunset, a beautiful model, an amazing instagram picture… But all of these things will change, or age, or get lost and be forgotten. So I suppose you’ve got to know when to get over the idea of “perfection” because, as lovely as it is, it isn’t going to last.
And when it comes to “imperfections” in terms of physical appearance, I guess eventually you have to just accept that you are what you are (something I still need to get to grips with!). If you weren’t born to look like a supermodel, then that’s just not what you’re supposed to be – your strengths lie elsewhere. You might be more “perfect” in other ways. It doesn’t make you any less valuable if you look less perfect than someone else. Also, when other people look at you, they see you as a whole. But because you look at yourself a lot more, you might see yourself as loads of different parts (some of which you don’t like). However you aren’t your hair or your nose or your weight. You’re EVERYTHING that you are made up of – body, face, mind, spirit. That’s what other people experience you as, and it’s something I always forget.
Basically, I just wanted to let you know that if you find it hard to cope with your imperfections, you are not alone. It’s a very exhausting way of thinking that isn’t easy to undo. But I also hope that some of my thoughts on why we want to be perfect, and why we don’t really need to be, were helpful to you in some way.
Thank you so much for reading 🙂 Please check out my other posts on anxiety related topics.
Instagram – @chlo.flower