A year ago I wrote a blog post on perfectionism, smugly claiming that I had freed myself from its tyrannical hold. Well, I spoke too soon.
While it is true I no longer feel the need to strive towards perfection in life the way I used to, perfectionism still comes sneaking up on me at times.
I’m currently on a city vacation in Gothenburg with my family and this morning I took the opportunity to renew my passport while on Swedish soil.
I arrived just before nine am at the local passport office and was lucky to avoid any longer queuing.
Instead of bringing pre-shot passport-sized photos, a picture is taken at the time of application, leaving little room for choosing your best look.
“Stand on the yellow line and look straight into the camera,” the clerk instructed. “And no smiling.”
When the picture appeared on the computer screen, I shuddered.
“Oh, please,” I begged, “could I try again?”
The clerk relented and took another picture. Not that it made any difference because the second picture was even more hideous than the first.
Do I look that wonky, I wondered to myself? Is my nose really that flat on one side? Maybe I should consider having another operation on my nose after all.
My inner perfectionist was at it again, but coming to my defence was my inner rebel.
Oh, what the heck! Who cares about a wonky nose? It’s been like that all my life so why bother now?
Besides, even if I did go in search of a ‘perfect’ nose, what would happen once I’d achieved it? Would I find something else about myself in need of improvement? Quite possibly, and before I knew it, I’d be off on a slippery slope of perfection-seeking obsession.
For the problem with perfectionist striving is, it never ends.
Speaking of noses, years ago I knew a lovely young woman who sported a slightly larger-than-average nose with a bump; nothing out of the ordinary and I never thought twice about her nose until she told me that her parents had put pressure on her to have a nose job to improve her looks.
I was horrified at hearing this. What kind of parents criticises their offspring’s appearance (aside from their choice of clothes, perhaps)?
Unfortunately, it turns out that there are plenty of parents out there who don’t think twice about judging their children’s appearance, telling them to lose weight, fix their nose, pin their ears back, straighten their curly hair, etc.
Personal experience tells me that striving for perfection only leads to dissatisfaction and unhappiness
My daughter sometimes mutters, “practice makes perfect,” while drawing a picture or practising her handwriting. I suppose it’s a phrase she’s picked up at school.
We’re always taught to strive for perfection in our achievements, but I think ‘good enough’ makes for a happier, healthier life.
As for my nose, it isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough.