[dropcap]B[/dropcap]eneath the drive for perfection, the self flagellation, the incessant self criticism, is a core that is already and has always been - perfect.
Perfect 10, a dream score
In 1976, at the Montreal Olympics, Nadia Comaneci, then only 14 years old, achieved the first perfect 10 score in the history of gymnastics. She went on to win 6 more perfect 10 scores at that Olympics and another 2 at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. Perfect 10. A dream score but one that has become a symbol of achievement, a fantasy of all that is good and necessary. Perfection.
This strive for perfection resides mostly on the outside: perfect body, perfect face, perfect behaviour, perfect scores at school, university and at the workplace. Being a perfect mother, a perfect daughter, a perfect friend, wife and lover.
Where are the examples of men? you may ask. Sadly studies show that more females than males feel lacking at work and home and don't think they live up to their own high standards.
Their own high standards, not anyone else's, their own. It's not enough to have a world of critics out there, we have to set the bar that much higher and aspire to be seen to be perfect.
Celebrating Women's Day
As we celebrate Women's Day in South Africa, and watch the posts trumpet thanks and accolades to the women of South Africa, the ideal of perfectionism still haunts us. Ironically it is fueled by social media where pictures and stories of other people's seemingly perfect lives flash mercilessly off bright screens. The feelings of inadequacy watching these Facebook and Instagram lives result in increased anxiety and depression.
That persistent nagging feeling of never being "good enough" is cheered on (or not) by our favourite (not) "friend", the internal critic. That mean "friend" that sits smuggly in our heads reminding us that we could lose a few kilos, or have longer legs. It whispers to me that it's so sad that I am single and have children who don't visit me. "You've never been a very good mother", it hisses, "No wonder!" I am sent skulking into the shadows of my neurosis, sobbing into a frayed tissue of "I'm absolutely and definitely not good enough".
What if we knew that we are perfect already?
What a waste of emotion. What if we knew that we are perfect already? No need to compare, or pick at. There would be no need to workout so I drown in sweat only to drown my sorrows in several glasses of wine when I need to suck in my belly to fit into that new skirt I bought because it looked so good on the size 2 model in the magazine.
Imagine knowing that no matter how many rolls of soft flesh poke above the skirt band, no matter how often or not my children call or visit me, no matter how not good I am at making moussaka, or how often I mess up some interaction with a very important person, (like my daughter!) at my core I am perfect. Perfect! Beautiful, complete, flawless, whole, intact, just right, great, wonderful.
What a gift to give to every perfect woman out there, every perfect man, every perfect human being. That is what we are: at our core we are perfect. Essentially complete and whole. Just perfect.