Surviving as an Imperfect Being in a Perfectionist World

In DeWers by Johanna Tesoniero

Many say comparison is the enemy of joy. I have always believed this is the case and continuously relay this to my children. Many times, I feel that it is an uphill battle, particularly when many of us live immersed in the parallel universe of social media. I say parallel because it is not real. We all know this instinctively but somehow it doesn’t completely register in our brains. The endless filtered pictures that we are constantly exposed to challenge our reality and expectations. The published stories of so called perfect lives defy our understanding of what our own lives should look like.

More and more, we are moving towards a 2D and fabricated 3D world that exists only in our minds, forgetting the grounded knowledge provided by all of our God given senses. As humans, we crave, no, we need, connection. Social media provides the hook by promising to deliver our tribe but somehow we are left physically isolated from the world we live in, sometimes stuck to the screen hours on end only to come back to a body that is aching and numb by end of the day; time unexpectedly lost in a vacuum of the lighted universe portrayed on the screen.

How do you survive in a perfectionist world? I have always been tough on myself. I honored the mantra of not comparing myself to others but rather compete and challenge myself to become the best that I could be. This has meant different things at different times in my life and I have found myself constantly lifting the bar.

As a young dentist, I invested thousands of dollars every year on continuing education, and even more importantly, hundreds of hours away from my family honoring the commitment of excellence I had made to my patients and to myself. Us dentists are known for obsessing over details. It is a sign of greatness but can also serve as our own downfall. I completed one of the highest regarded internationally renowned and prestigious dental curriculums at the time, only to challenge myself further when I convinced myself that this was not enough. I obtained my MBA and have now completed the requirements to obtain a second lifetime achievement only to look around and wonder, where do I go from here? I ask myself, will it ever be enough?

I think I got lost somewhere along the way. When will it be okay to let our grays grow out and our wrinkles show? I think that is one’s personal choice. Others really don’t and shouldn’t care about these decisions. If they are judging you based on this, then perhaps they should not be in your inner circle.

To answer the question I have posed to myself, I believe we need to constantly challenge the idea that this perfect state even exists. Is it not our imperfection that makes us that much more human? I remember going through an exercise where pictures of one half of the face were compared to the other. Asymmetries were highlighted. Then one half was superimposed on the other, but when the resulting pictures were compared, the faces that were completely symmetrical did not look human. It is our unique characteristics that differentiate us, distinguish us from one another and add to our humanity.

So to answer the question as to how to survive as an imperfect being in a perfectionist world, I humbly propose the following:

  1. Remind yourself to be in the moment, use all your senses, make time to be outside.
  2. Use social media and screen time as a resource and a tool, but limit use.
  3. Practice gratitude and avoid comparison.
  4. Set your horizon. What are your values, mission and vision in life? How do the decisionsyou make align with them?
  5. Seek and indulge in moments of happiness every day, whether it means playing withyour children or sipping coffee while silently watching the sunrise.

Thanks for sharing your time with me and my thoughts. What do you think?