Over the last, oh…couple of years or so, there’s been this recurring message in various media that there’s nothing wrong with any of us; we’re all perfect just the way we are. And initially I thought that was a great message. There are so many media messages that tell us how imperfect we are (too fat, too skinny, too pale, too dark, too stupid, too rich, too poor, etc.) that it was nice to see something different. I thought it would be especially important for children and youth to be exposed to such positive messaging.
But in the last month or so, I’ve wondered is being told we are perfect really a positive message?
I’m absolutely not perfect. You are absolutely note perfect. And it’s pretty obvious that the people around us aren’t perfect, either. If we were all perfect, there’d be no road-rage because nobody would ever cut us off, drive 20 kph below the speed limit, or block the passing lane. The milk and juice jugs would not be put back in the fridge empty (or with only a swallow left at the bottom). And the men of the house would not sprinkle when they tinkle (or if they did, they’d clean it up perfectly, without being asked).
So we aren’t perfect. Big deal. Why bother to write about it?
I think it’s yet another end of the pendulum swing. In order to counter all the negative messaging, we need to go to the polar opposite in order to find a positive message. I disagree with that. Positive messaging, if it is to truly resonate, should be, well, true. For me, there’s no realism in the message of perfection.
If I’m perfect – even if you want to say, “Well, it doesn’t mean you are absolutely perfect; it just means you are the perfect you.” I gotta say that’s almost worse. If this, the way I am right this minute, is as perfect as I am going to be – that’s pretty unfortunate. That would mean I not only won’t get any better, I actually can’t get any better. You can’t perfect perfection. I’m in my mid-40s…I would like to think that I have quite a few years left to go, and I’d like to think that in 10, 20, 30 years I’ll be better than I am today.
Now, as an adult, I can look at that message and take it with a grain of salt, because I can see a bigger picture. But telling our children and youth that they are perfect…I don’t think that’s fair to them. They need goals and aspirations. If they are already perfect, what room is left for aspirations? And, perhaps more importantly, how much of a shock will the grown-up world be to them when their college roommates, professors, romantic partners, and future employers make no bones about letting them know, in finite detail, just how imperfect they are.
Additionally, being told that you are perfect also strongly implies that you should remain perfect. That’s a lot of pressure to live up to, too. Isn’t a realistic, true impression of our skills and abilities more important than an untrue, blanket statement?
So, I propose this message instead:
You aren’t perfect. And that’s not only ok, it’s actually a good thing. You are the only “you” there is, and your potential is incomprehensible. It’s in your control how wonderful, amazing, and astounding you are or you become.