I was sitting in the airport today when a tall, striking blonde woman, about my age walked by.
She had long blond hair (extensions), beautiful long lashes (false), perfectly manicured nails (acrylic), tight facial features (botox), full puffy lips (collagen), overtly perky breasts (implants), and a fabulous size-four body (a personal trainer, I’m guessing).
Her parts, individually, were perfect. She was actually unattractive, quite fake looking and this provided me with an incredible insight about our quest for perfection.
Because when I first saw her, I thought, “I’d like to look like that!” But I don’t, really. Because if I changed my features to make them “perfect,” I wouldn’t look like me.
The illusion of perfection is far from perfect.
The same thing is true about life in general. I think it is easy to be miserable because we are far from perfect. It’s easy to see all the things we don’t like about our life and think that if we fixed them, everything would be perfect.
We think that if we had a perfect body life would be grand! We don’t realize the time and effort it takes to maintain that perfect body. As much as this woman’s pieces were great, it must take a lot of time to maintain them (liposuction is not permanent!).
Would your friends be your friends regardless of your size? Would you be comfortable with a perfect body? I know that sounds like a ridiculous question, but if you don’t see yourself in that body, you won’t be comfortable. Remember the TV show The Swan? Ever watch The Biggest Loser? You have to be comfortable in your own skin, or you can unknowingly sabotage yourself.
We think that if we had a bigger house we would be happier at home. But a bigger home takes more time to maintain. Perhaps you’re thinking that a housekeeper would be part of the bigger house, right? If you had the grand house, would your friends be comfortable inviting you to their house? That sounds crazy, but it is true.
When Warren and I were first married, we bought a huge house. I mean big. We were combining two homes, two families and two incomes. Bought the big house I thought I always wanted. I loved it, but I was surprised at how uncomfortable that made some of my friends. I actually had people (I thought were my friends, and loved me for who I was) say that they wouldn’t invite me to their house because they were embarrassed. If I was there, they apologized for it not being clean enough, because they didn’t have a housekeeper like I did. Now, that’s crazy from my perspective, but they felt intimidated.
We’ve since moved from that house, live in a nice suburban neighbourhood, and spend significantly less time maintaining our house (and we love that!).
What about your car? Your mini-van isn’t sexy enough for you? It is super convenient for kids, sports and going to Costco. Imagine if you had a little bitty two-seater sports car. There isn’t anywhere to put your purse! I am a car girl for sure (and Warren is a car guy), and while the sexy car is fun it certainly doesn’t make you happier. It provides pleasure, not happiness.
Your job? You think you would like a job with lots of travel? Where someone in a hotel makes your bed, cooks your breakfast and delivers your coffee? Well, this morning it was 4 a.m. when I saw that woman in the airport. Sure travel sounds glamorous, but anyone who travels knows that it isn’t. You spend time away from your family, you work ridiculously long hours, and when you get home there is a lot of catching up to do.
Maybe you want to have a better paying job, a fancier title. Well, there’s a reason that job pays more. It carries strings the very same way that keeping a size-four body does for the woman in the airport.
I’m not saying we can’t try harder. I’m not saying to stop trying to achieve a better life for you. I am saying that we can’t lose our real selves in our quest for the “perfect” life. It’s okay to want things, but we need to enjoy the life we have, the real life we have, too.
Dreams are fabulous and I’m never going to stop dreaming. I want a nice house, a better body, a bigger paycheque and a sexy car. However, I can be content with wherever I am and whatever I have in my life, too.
Those material things don’t make me happy—they give me pleasure. But pleasure also comes in a hot cup of tea, a chair on the beach and time snuggled up with my husband.
Sometimes the illusion of perfection is just that. An illusion.