“We are all pure perfection, desperately trying to be something we already are.”
— Anita Krizzan
I spend a lot of time chasing after perfection, at least in my mind, and let me tell you, it does little more than waste time and make me feel tired. I’d go so far as to say that it’s even stifled my ability to write freely and creatively, because I’ve become so obsessed with grammatical and mechanical perfection. Which probably isn’t a bad thing when I’m writing papers, but definitely gets in the way when I’m trying to write just about anything else. I’ve even developed this odd obsession with not using the letter g, because I don’t like the way the little curly tail looks with most serif fonts. I know what you’re thinking: “She’s crazy.” Maybe, but it speaks to a compulsive obsession with perfection, or at least the appearance of perfection.
Obsessed with appearances. Aren’t there enough people in this world who are obsessed with appearances? Celebrities? Insecure adolescents? Aging men and women? We all want to look younger, more beautiful, more put together, so that the world will envy us. We want to be those things, but because maybe we can’t, we settle for just looking that way. We settle for projecting an image to the world.
I’ve done this for years, I think. In junior high school, I adopted an attitude that I thought would make me fit in with the girls in my class, even adopting the kind of “cool stutter” that one of them had. Don’t ask me to explain that—it doesn’t make sense even to me, but for the fact that I remember being there. In high school, I left this group of friends in search of another, and I found a group that I fit in with well, without having to try. We had classes and interests in common, and they liked me for me, and I could be myself. Be more genuine. Until I was in my first real relationship, one that wasn’t always the healthiest, and this is when I perfected my image projection. I remember many nights when I would come home around 9:00 or 10:30, and my parents would be awake in the living room, watching TV, when I would walk in the door; I remember, often, whatever I had felt on the way home, however upset I was over a fight we had had, I would make it disappear as soon as I stepped in the door. An automatic shift in my attitude, in my temperament, that allowed me to project that there was no problem. It was easy, and even now I don’t regret doing that because, and this was my thought process at the time, it allowed me the freedom to make my own decisions about my relationship, the good and the bad, without input from everybody else. Even my closest friends never knew the extent, and while I love them and respect their opinion, I hid for a reason. Eventually, I arrived at my own conclusion, and that had to be best for me. My decision, my terms.
It doesn’t strike me as new, either, this projection of images. Haven’t people been doing it for centuries? One of my favorite places on earth is Newport, Rhode Island, and a favorite attraction there are the “summer cottages” of the nation’s wealthiest families of the Gilded Age. “Cottage” is more than an understatement for these estates. Now, I can’t speak to the past, because I wasn’t there, but if the term “Gilded Age” is any indication, this was an age of the projection of images of wealth and privilege. As for today, while a lot about the world has changed, I don’t think this one thing has. Perhaps it’s narrow-minded of me to use these as examples, but watch a TV show like Gossip Girl or read a book like Pretty Little Liars, and in those stories, there is all kinds of evidence of people appearing as different than they truly are. Even in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, I believe there is evidence of this…
So, I’d like to ask, whatever happened to being genuine, but I wonder if maybe authenticity was always rare? Or perhaps it’s always been fairly common, but there isn’t as much evidence of it, because it’s not what people pay as much attention to? So many people are so obsessed with their own ideals of perfection, that so often, one fails to realize that perfection exists in the imperfections that make each person unique and authentic, and real. Maybe perfection exists in the imperfect ramblings of blog posts like this one, because those are real thoughts, true and uncensored. Checked for spelling and grammar, maybe, but not hidden away.
Secrets are okay. Everyone is entitled to at least one. It’s when those secrets become so many, so complicated, such a tangled web, that the authenticity of the person is lost underneath.
“Oh! what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!”
— Sir Walter Scott
Pay attention to whether you’re deceiving yourself, too. Pay attention to the person that you’ve made yourself out to be, and to what perfection means to you. Does it mean composedly flawless? Or does it mean heartwarmingly real?
You work out your perfection, while I work out mine.
Let me know what you come up with.