Friday, August 23, 2013

The Perfection of Imperfection

I'm guilty of consistently comparing myself to others. Frankly, I think everyone is guilty of this, but perhaps a lucky few of us take it one step further...

You see, I brutally compare myself against people I perceive as "perfect" and in areas I'm truly sensitive about. Success. Marriage. Parenting. Overall happiness. I look at pictures, read blogs, hear stories....and find myself drowning in "what ifs" and "why nots." Had I made one decision differently, had I chosen just one alternate path....where would I be today? Would I be the perfect wife? The perfect parent? The critically-acclaimed blogger who has nothing but incredible things to say each and every day and huge, clear pictures with perfect, catchy captions? 

No way. No way will I ever be perfect. Wanna know why? 

Because the perfection I see in others is designed by my imagination. It doesn't exist. 

The ideas are planted in my head with the flip of a magazine page:  hard-working, successful couple wants to escape the hustle-and-bustle of the city, so they pack up and move into a perfectly-situated country home with a wrap-around porch, and fix it up with vintage, re-purposed antiques from all over the country, and forever spend their days plucking peaches right out of their orchard and walking that invisible line between sober and tipsy while drinking handmade cocktails from Great Aunt Midge's glassware.

Or maybe the inspiration comes from a blog link: stay-at-home mom wants to help out with the household income, so she starts taking buttons and gluing them together, and then sells them on the internet, and people love them and buy them, and she works in her blue-and-white home office, and cooks dinner grown from her own backyard, and washes laundry with green, handmade soap, all while balancing a perfectly content baby on her size 4 hip. 

I even find imagination fodder on Facebook. Yep, I'm that chick: another stunning pose from the beautiful bride and her bridesmaids, at a tropical beach location made affordable by the couple's fantastic financial planning and the standard, responsible evolution of their relationship. New baby delivered by sweet, beautiful mom already fitting into her pre-pregnancy jeans. A fantastic trip to Europe, Asia, South America. 

Like a match, my mind ignites these things and turns them into smoke and mirrors. My perspective, warped, tells me these people have that thing I'm missing. That thing that makes me the best at everything I do. That thing that balances independence and connectivity. Freedom and restraint. Wild and grounded. 

It's one of my flaws, you see. Do I really think everyone who portrays a perfect life actually has a perfect life? No. I know that's not true. But I get carried away with the what-ifs. 

I have to stop myself. I get so wrapped up in what I perceive to be perfection and happiness, I miss the happiness right in front of me. I have to force a reality check. 

Martha Stewart poops too. Right in that expensive, perfectly coordinated toilet. And I bet it stinks just like my poop, your poop, the Presidents poop, and Brad Pitt's poop.

Perfection is what you want it to be. 

I drink Coke Zero in the morning during my commute every single day sometimes. At some point last winter, while cruising in the dark, early hours of morning, I grabbed my can of Coke and cracked it open. Took a huge swig. Gagged. NOT COKE. Hops...lots of hops, rushing around my mouth. What.

So what did I do? I busted the heck up. I sat in my car, driving down the road at 5:45 in the morning, laughing my ass off, holding a full can of some weird, random beer in my hand, repeatedly saying, "what. what. WHAT," going about 55mph, not entirely sure what to do, my eyes scanning the road ahead for anything even slightly resembling law enforcement, wondering if beer froze at the same temperature as water, thinking the whole time I was dead meat and doomed to burn in hell for grabbing the wrong dark-colored can out of my fridge. It splashed on my clothes as I hit bumps and I cracked up all over again, thinking about how Jen the responsible administrative assistant was going to show up to work stinking like skunky beer.

At that moment, my happiness, my laughter, my racing heart and watering eyes and freezing cold hand...they might have been perfect. Jen's perfection. It didn't come from an award-winning display of perennials, or overnight financial success, or a lakeside vacation with all the bells and whistles. My real-life perfection came from being thrown into a completely unexpected, ironic, awkward situation I unknowingly brought upon myself. This is my trend, my historical timeline, my thing.

Take their idea of perfection and throw it out the window. 

Your imperfection, like mine, is perfect. 

A side note from me...
I am so lucky to have my readers. I treasure sharing my mistakes and tales of woe with you and hope you rest easy knowing you're never alone in craziness. I've decided to change things up a bit and post to my blog only once a week, on Friday nights. I am already looking forward to next week :) Happy Friday and weekend, all! :)


  1. Yet again an amazing post. I was just contemplating the exact same thing. I see people all around me in perfect situations and I get jealous but honestly... I don't really want what they have. In some situations I would be down right miserable!! Amazing but it takes a lot for me to analyze the situation and realize that.

    BTW OMG!!!! That beer day was hysterical!!! I remember that day!

  2. Good job Jen....Love ya Dad!

  3. Wonderful, wonderful post. Delightful. Some folks have these realizations at 30, some at 50, some never. The best of times are often found in simplicity and foibles and even the day to day mundane. Recognizing this is the gift. Thank you for sharing yours!