Ed Sheeran sings “Life is more than fittin’ in your jeans. It’s love and understanding, positivity.” Perfection, physical or otherwise, is an unrealistic, unobtainable goal. It’s an endless mirage that doesn’t exist.
It’s taken me decades to let go of perfectionism. That includes vanity, I hate to admit. My husband says that if anyone looked in a mirror as long as I did that they’d eventually find something wrong. Now that I’m older and wiser, I realize it’s the caring, warm and funny people I’m drawn to, not the most attractive anyway. I can remember being a one-time perfectionist about my home, exercise and initially, parenting. God put my misplaced priorities in the blender and hit HIGH. Having four children in under two years will make the most staunch perfectionist fold.
I don’t know if it’s learned or innate but some people demand excellence in everything and others could care less. For example, one son years back was doing homework and repeatedly wrote an ‘S’ for the number ‘5.’ When I corrected him he remarked, “But isn’t it a pretty S?” Another son, in elementary school made an ‘F’ on an assignment. I admonished him about it and he said, “Mom, EVERYONE has to make one eventually!” They just weren’t that bothered by imperfection. Others in our household put so much pressure on themselves I have to remind them to be nice to even themselves.
The perfect family, house, body, or face won’t grant love or security. It’s all just packaging for true riches: love, understanding, positivity. The original queen of exercise, Jane Fonda, was recently quoted as saying it took her until age 60 to become the woman she was supposed to be. I hope to do it a decade sooner.
Do you like anticipation or do you have to have it yesterday? Ask a two year old and the answer is obvious. Ask a 50 year old and you might get a pause. Of course we all enjoy instant gratification but is that best? With the arrival of convenience apps, and the Holy Grail of them all, Amazon Prime, we are so pampered, it makes patience seem like an old fashioned vice rather than a virtue. I am supremely guilty of this as I enjoy Prime membership more than anyone. It has become ingrained in me to seek the “Prime” options first. This guarantees my delivery in less than three days and the bonus of not having to deal with crowded parking or crowds period. As I ponder my choice, I recognize that time has become more precious to me than money. But what am I doing with my perceived extra time? Am I shopping more, getting more, doing more? Am I actually increasing the quality of my life?
I remember being a child anticipating Christmas. My favorite pastime was to circle the toys I wanted in our huge, Sears-Roebuck catalog that inevitably became a Christmas tree (you had to fold down the pages all the way around to create a standing tree of sorts). Anticipation was the key. I actually had to think, prioritize, and then (audible gasp inserted) WAIT. My choices would be ranked 1-5 but during the weeks leading up to Christmas, that rank changed at least 20 times in order of importance. This proves the point I’d like to highlight- if we had to wait, would our choices and priorities be different?
As we mature, we are granted the luxury of hindsight and life experience. I’ve heard many people say, “If I knew then, what I know now,” and it makes me realize how fortunate we are to gain wisdom through missed opportunity, loss and discomfort. We have to do without, wait, and experience disappointment to recognize value. It hastens the question: if we as a society will be capable of delayed gratification in the future? Will things/ experiences lose value because they are too accessible? It seems a question worth asking. Sometimes, anticipation is half the fun!
Some people have decided to break from social media. The inevitable effects of comparisons, time lost, and the one dimensional view have caused many to opt out. I haven’t heard of anyone bowing out of Prime Membership or deleting convenience apps, however. Even most grocery stores now offer curbside pickup. Why spend all that time loading your own cart when someone else can do it for you AND deliver it to your car?
But what about the loss of the antiquated “running into so and so” at the store? What about the quality control loss since others do our picking? What will we fill our extra time with? If we remain in our own enclave, what societal element is lost? Do instant gratification and convenience even provide long term satisfaction or are we somehow losing something else? I want to know…and I want to know NOW!