This I Believe

Allyson - Baker City, Oregon
Entered on November 26, 2007

I have never actually been locked up in a prison cell. I have visited prisons and spoken with inmates. That experience alone is enough to make me want to stay far away from trouble. Although I have never physically been imprisoned, I have been a prisoner to my own ideals. You see I am a perfectionist. A perfectionist is someone who can’t tolerate anything less than perfect. Being perfect means without fault or defect. Who can do that? I must think that I can. Why else would I try? Are you beginning to see what I mean? I have been imprisoned by the unattainable standards I have set for myself

I have tried and tried to reach perfection but it never comes. I have tried to make others perfect. My husband has to make all the right decisions, my kids must always be clean and polite, and my mother must always say the right things. I even expect perfection of myself. I set standards that I can never achieve. Does this sound familiar to anyone?

I tell myself: the perfect woman needs to lose weight, dress nice, say the right things, be a good mom, and an even better wife. And yes, she needs to get her education and of course be the best student. No ordinary job will do, it’s necessary to stand out from the rest. She must be exceptional, look exceptional, and then maybe she will be acceptable; but it doesn’t end there. She must remember that the perfect mother gets out of bed at least two hours before the rest of her family. She needs to get dressed and ready for the day. No plain clothes allowed. Next she needs to have a warm and healthy breakfast on the table. Greet her husband with a smile and a kiss. Then it’s time to wake the kids! Feed and groom them, (including flossing and scrubbing behind the ears). Then there is the quality time, which consists of at least 30 minutes of interactive play.

That’s still not all. Don’t forget the perfect mother doesn’t put her kids in school. She teaches them herself out of her overflow of wisdom and love. Then by 5:00pm it’s time for the perfect mom to become the perfect wife. “Daddy’s home.” “Here is your dinner. Put your feet up while I take the kids into the other room so you can relax.” At the end of the day she slips off to bed in something sexy with perfectly smooth legs. She has no need for time to herself. She is just happy thinking of others.

I am done! I have had it. I will never be that woman. Does anyone really expect me to be? If someone does I don’t care anymore. I have spent my life trying to be perfect, the whole time looking for people to accept me. I wanted them to accept me for who I thought I should be. Not for who I am. I have finally realized that perfection is like this defective glass. No matter how much water I pour in, it will never be full. In the same way, no matter how hard I try to be perfect, it will never be.

So all along I have held the keys to my prison door. I have decided to be free from these unattainable goals, and so today I have given myself the stamp of approval. It says “Acceptable.” No longer will I bear the stamps of “Faulty” or “Defective.” My life has already been approved. My identity no longer depends on how well I perform, or what others think of me.

Now I can allow myself to fail at being perfect and I look forward to enjoying the rest of my life. This I believe; perfection is overrated!