It’s a cult really.
And more than usually visible around New Year’s.
I have spent my whole life trying to be perfect. Perfect grades, perfect body, perfect daughter/sister/cousin/friend/girlfriend, perfect resume, perfect body (worth of two mentions), perfect teeth, perfect skin, perfect face, perfect hair. Perfect job, perfect life plan, perfect finances, perfect person.
They might call it “be your best you,” when you stop trying to be all things to all people, and define YOUR type of perfect, but then you have to become the perfect diva, perfect skank, perfect yogini, perfect chef, perfect career woman, perfect hippie, whatever shade of vanilla or chocolate you want to be. As long as it’s ice cream, and it has no contradictions and you can easily wrap your head and a brand around it. And even better if i’s some form of “rebellion,” or anti-establishment hipsterness where you can be identified by your kale shake and yoga mat or whatever badge of identiy it migh be.
I might sound a little bitter.
Perfect liberal, perfect libertarian, perfect conservative, perfect Catholic, perfect Chrisian, perfect spiritual but not religious. Always rying to reach some ideal which is vaguely defined in terms of what it is but always clearly delineated by what it is NOT. And whatever I do I’m always behind the eight ball.
I went to the dentist/periodontist recently. I am between school and my first job and don’t have dental insurance or a ton of money. I had a root canal that went bad and needed to have the tooth extracted. These thousands of dollars of care were being paid through an extended repayment plan, and I’ve been lucky to have help from my parents. The whole ordeal was more painful to my ego than my mouth by a long shot.
And on one of the follow up visits following he removal of my tooth, he bitch periodontist asks if I have ever considered getting porcelain veneers to make my teeth whiter. I have flouride stains (totally beyond my control since I was a kid and the tooth came in that way) and the yellowness is visible.
She knew I was starting a career in business and said I’d want to look good in that kind of setting.
Well, I considered the comment somewhat callous under the circumstances. I guess tact isn’t always a must when you are pulling people’s teeth out for a living. She may not have been exactly aware of the financial circumstances and maybe she just assumed daddy and money would be willing and able to pay for anything and I’d be happy to ask them to.
I said no, reiterating that I was unemployed. I felt guilty and ashamed for being unemployed, as well as for my teeth that have been yellowish in comparison to the white flouride stains and a source of shame for a long time. I also felt ashamed for my appearance in general, hat I wasn’t he toned, svelte, matching jewlery young professional I guess I should be.
Boy I want to kill that word should sometimes.
But no, maybe I’m just too sensitive. And I wasn’t above judging her. She herself did not have perfect teeth, and I feel justified in saying that her appearance would have been improved by losing a few pounds. Even more so han mine would. She didn’t even have makeup on. But I guess she gets a bi for not being in he public eye and having sharky catty business people to judge her.
Obviously I’ve carried this around for a little too long. She did appear very nice and helpful besides tha, hough I’m not too keen on her to be honest. Much as I should just blow it off and not even care.
The saddest thing is that I have gone through life extremely blessed and I’ve accomplished a lot, though when someone compliments me I alwas find a way to explain it away. The fact that I got a job recently, after struggling thinking I never would since I hadn’t found a similar legit professional job before despite my education and internships and everything else, and still find ways of explaining it away as just being lucky to have connected with someone who introduced me to the person looking for someone and lucky someone had advised me to go to business schoool and lucky that I’m just another overprivileged suburban upper middle class white chick who is not starving in Africa or struggling with a broken family or whatever all the ills I’ve been blessed to have been spared up to that point is. Do I deserve my success? Is my success even good enough? Shouldn’t I be doing something more uplifting with m life, or doing something more practical? When will i ever be good enough?
This ear I just quit trying. I numbed out wih food and even television and fixating on why people didn’ like me enough and how I’ll always be different and never fit in with the group, how I’ve made every decision in my life wrong, how everyything hat’s righ has just been luck and everthing that’s gone wrong is my own damn fault.
I am a smart, funny, beautiful girl. No matter how you slice it, I’ve done a lot with my life. I’ve had a lot of help along the way, like everyone, but I’ve taken the chances and done the work myself. I’ve gained some weight over the past year and it is ripping me open on the inside at times, yet I don’t do enough to change it. I’m afraid to even try to make any positive changes and implemen any system because I feel like at some point, it will never be enough. And ruly, hough I have gained weigh and would echnically be obese, I am 5 10 and a size 14-16 and carry it well. I am not the 600 pound woman and m health is not in immediate danger. I fluctuate between haing mself and saying it’s not that bad.
For all the times that I’ve done something awesome, or heard someone simply say I looked nice or was cool, I can’t clearly recall an instant where I really felt it. And when I did feel it I neded to compare myself to a standard or o somebody else to feel that way.
The damndest thing is how you can even attain “perfection,” and still not feel perfect, like I did with my weight abou ten years ago in my early teens, when I was so obsessed with food and weighing myself and Weight Wachers that the idea of doing any kind of strucutred diet totally unhinges me now. I know it doesn’t have to be tha way but I’m afraid to give myself another means of self abuse. Afraid of any target I may or may not hit, because whaever I do I’ll end up hitting myself.
Some people say the answer is more realistic standards. Some people say it’s about owning your misakes cause they are he person who made you who you are.
I think he answer is somehing else, to build life on the rock solid bedrock of who ou are and accpetance of that. That I migh actually take up daily flossing because i will make me healhier, not just waste more money and aggravation with ooth whitening kits.
It’s not about my teeth or my weight or my resume or how I handle money.
It’s about how angry and lost and confused I feel, how strongly i want to live another way, how desperately I need something else.
I figured out what my false god is. It isn’t looks or money or my career- it’s the standard of perfection itself, the perfection that is outside of myself, tha requires me to pick a model and berae myself for not being them, be it Kate Moss or Queen Latifah.
It’s about always thinking I can fill the void within myself by fixing whatever imperfection it might be. THat I am only a new facial scrub, ten pounds, or a new job away from finnally feeling happy.
I don’t know how I am going to make peace with my imperfections while still working on my very real flaws, but I do know I have o try.
Life is too short to never feel good enough.