My writer friend Julie Novak looks fabulous. Her skin is flawless, no wrinkles there. And she’s got an amazing figure. She’s got kids in their twenties so if you do the math, I figure she’s got to be in her mid forties but she certainly doesn’t look it. When I see Julie at church, she’s always uber cute styling in the latest jeans, knock out shoes, and some unbelievable accessories. She’s just always put together which is quite impressive to me – and I figured it was easy for her. That keeping it all together was some kind of gift.
So the other day when I asked Julie and several other writer friends to put down some thoughts about the quest for perfection, I was surprised when I read Julie’s entry. It was vulnerable. It was intriguing. And … it was messy. She writes:
“I am known to many as a perfectionist. It’s true, I like to be perfect. The trouble is I’m not. And as I have gotten older, it has become increasingly hard to maintain the facade. Take my appearance. I can hide the spider veins with a little “tan-in-a can,” and fill in some lines with collagen cream but there is no pill for cellulite. And it’s equally difficult to camouflage those ten pounds that crept on when I had that little love affair with Christmas M&M’s.
When my children were smaller, I made sure they looked perfect. I maintained an orderly home, orderly children and an orderly life. But in my heart, nothing felt very orderly. My quest to be perfect only left me feeling like a failure. The more I tried to be perfect, the more profoundly un-perfect I felt.
At some point I realized that excessive perfectionism was selfish. It made me unapproachable. It kept me from taking risks, because of the risk of failure. And it’s then that I embraced and remembered: God is the only one that’s perfect. And he knows I am not perfect and he loves me anyway!
So if you want my advice to escape the unbearable quest for perfection I say, go ahead and eat the M&M’s, leave the junk on the counter, let the kids wear what they want to church and go somewhere in your comfy, knee-worn yoga pants…now that sounds perfect!”
I have to tell you that after I read that, I stopped worrying that my friends might turn me in to be on ‘What Not to Wear’ and started celebrating my hippie mama mentality of jeans, a t-shirt and some Old Navy flip flops. Julie made me see that striving for perfectionism is actually ‘profoundly un-perfect.’