Perfection. Excellence. Unsurpassed Accomplishment. We all strive for those traits at some point in our lives, some of us more often than others perhaps. But what if that need to be perfect, to be the best pours into what we expect of others around us? Not just the obvious people like our children but co-workers, parents, friends, or spouses?
Are the standards we place upon ourselves so high that they make others feel they cannot be near us for fear of being a failure simply by being who they are? Are the clothes they wear, the way they look, the way they walk or talk, (or simply the fact that they do things differently) not meeting the level that we would expect from someone in our circle? I learned that the hard way with my ex-husband. When we first got married, I was accustomed to folding towels a certain way. Nice. Neat. No edges sticking out. All the same size and shape. He didn’t. It drove me crazy. I mean they were all sloppy and willy nilly on the shelf in the linen closet. UGH! Until one day I came home to a laundry basket filled with clean, unfolded towels. Without saying a word, I quickly realized I was more satisfied with a husband who did laundry than I was upset that he didn’t fold them my way.
As women, I believe we set our standards high unintentionally. We live in a world where men still make more money for doing the same job. Although “homemaker” is the toughest job in the world, if one had to dish out what it would cost to replace her many roles few, if any could afford it. Yet still, we women try to “do it all” to “be it all.” We aim for the crown of perfection. After all, everything falls on the woman. If his shirt is wrinkled his wife didn’t iron it. If the kids are obnoxious she didn’t discipline them. If the house is messy, she didn’t clean it. If the kids are too skinny, she didn’t feed them. And it goes on and on! You know the list. You’ve heard the whispers.
But why do we set our sights on being the best mom, the best wife, best homemaker, best party planner, best lover and so on? Love? Acceptance? Value? Where did this era of people of perfection begin? There are even churches out there that only seem to want “perfect Christians” sitting in their pews. Why? Why have we allowed this “perfection” to prevent us from really seeing the people around us? I couldn’t find one of Jesus’ friends in the Bible that were perfect. So where?
I am reminded of a portion of a poem by Marianne Williamson called “Our Greatest Fear” which states, “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually,who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”
Your playing small does not serve the world!! WOW! What a powerful statement. All this “serving and doing” for others and it ends up not serving anyone. I don’t know about you but I find it comforting to know that we do not have to be perfect. I do believe, however, that we should be genuine, honest and true to ourselves. Live our life with intent and purpose. In fact, I think Dr. Seuss put it best when he said, “Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” So, while we are trying daily (along with everyone else) to “keep on keeping on” we should remember that if we were perfect- we’d be the ones that once walked on water. But since we’re not, we must remember we have friends in High places and no matter what we wear, how we walk, talk or fold a towel, and that our playing small does NOT serve the world for ourselves or anyone!
michelle bryant is the CEO/founderofCharleston’s Focus on Fabulous magazine, owner of Fabulous Business Solutions, Podcaster, speaker, freelance writer and the author of several books available on Amazon.com.