Monday, September 27, 2010

On a mission - Part 2

Part 1 of "On a Mission" can be found HERE.


The stuff I want to talk about in this second half came about because of yet another post by Dan Pearce at Single Dad Laughing. This post has been well received all around the world. It has made people laugh, it has made them cry and it has opened up many channels of communication. More than 100,000 people have visited the post, it has been shared on Facebook and tweeted on Twitter and sent via email. It took Dan a long time to write and took me a long time to read through because it kept making me stop to think. And cry. The post is called "The Disease Called 'Perfection'". If you haven't yet read it, you should. If you have read it, read it again. Please. Then come back here and we'll talk.

I'll wait.

Did you see anyone you recognize in that post? Did you see yourself in that post?

I did. I saw people from my past and even some from my present. I saw myself from a couple of years ago and even some small bits of my present self floating around. It was kind of sobering.

My mother was there, trying to be perfect for the people around her, never taking time for herself, justifying her husband's behaviour to herself and to everyone around her. She spent many of my formative years trying to please everyone, trying to make everyone happy. If she fell short in that pursuit, you could tell it affected her in a big way. I never really appreciated how much she did for us (none of us did), until I was older with kids of my own. I spent a few years doing this myself.

I'm sure that some people would tell you that my husband was the belittled, unappreciated man. He may even tell you that himself. For some years there, as ashamed as I am to admit it, he worked hard for our family and all I did was pick fights, nag and bully. I was going through a hard time in my own head but wasn't ready to admit it, instead taking it out on him. It's possible that in his desire to hide the imperfection in his marriage, he stayed. Thankfully, we are now in a good, happy place.

We were the couple with debt who still went camping, still went to movies, still got take out....all because we (I) didn't want to say to our friends "sorry, we can't afford it". It's hard when all your friends are making better money, buying better things and having fun....and you don't have the money. You want to seem perfect, you want to fit in, and to tell anyone otherwise is scary.

"Perfection"'s not all it's cracked up to be. Dan had it right, it's a pandemic. People everywhere trying to something they're not.

I've been that mom, trying to keep up with the other moms. Crafts, play dates, classes, all gets to be too much.

I've been that overwhelmed woman driving in her car and considering driving into a wall. I really have. The only thing that stopped me was the fact that my children would then have to live with a very REAL example of how IMperfect their mother was.

It scares me, just as much as it scares Dan and the thousands of people who have shared his words, how focused on being "perfect" we have all become. I am thankful that I am starting to outgrow it. It is partly due to age, I no longer have the incredible NEED to be liked by everyone. My new mantra is "if you don't like me, that ain't MY problem". It is partly due to our new location, New Zealand is not a "keep up with the Joneses" country. But it is mostly due to the fact that I am very aware of how damaging this quest for perfection can be....and I don't want my children to be sucked in. I don't want anyone's children to be sucked in.

So here's my question to you.


Why do we feel like we have to be everything, to everyone?

Why do we put so much pressure on our children to look right, act right, be....."perfect"?

Why do we put ourselves through the things we do, to make OTHER people happy?


Surely we should be trying to make ourselves happy first. If we aren't happy in our own lives, we can't help anyone else.

I want you all to read Dan's post as many times as it takes to really GET IT. It's important. We need to stop this stupid Perfection Infection. It's ridiculous. And it needs to stop.

It needs to end before anymore children kill themselves, before anymore young women make poor decisions that cost them their lives, before anymore men and women stay in marriages that are making them desperately unhappy.

And please, remember this one thing:

Imperfect is the new perfect.

Also, it's kind of beautiful to be imperfect and have flaws. So embrace yourself. Be yourself. Screw the rest of them.

UPDATE: Dan has posted a response to his own post called "The CURE for 'perfection'". Please go and check it out.

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  1. Thank you, dear Maggie. You have no idea how much I needed this post today. (And both of Dan's.) From one imperfect mom/wife/friend/daughter/blogger to another - LOVE YOU!

  2. Maggie, everybody feels pressure sometimes to "fit in" or to have your kids "fit in". But the truth is, wanting what you have is the best perfection of all.

  3. the answer to why in my humble opinion is that being IMperfect takes longer to explain and justify. Not fitting into a mold and having to talk about it and explain why, it can be exhausting and we are all so tired anyway.
    Yea, of course I saw myself and others in that post. Very very powerful


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