"Perfectionsism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artist's true friend." Anne Lamott
I don't know where it starts really. This idea that if we don't look or act a certain way, then we're messing up/not doing it right/failing at life. I know it starts young. Sometimes obviously - parent's who vocally compare sibling to sibling, or friends on the soccer field - but sometimes it's more opaque and it's hard to tell when it actually started. But at some point, most of us... find ourselves feeling like we don't measure up; like we have to every single duck in picture-perfect rows to feel competent, successful, beautiful. It's a deeply rooted lie that most of us struggle with.
The trouble with this is a lack of confidence, lack of contentedness, lack of feeling like we're doing okay, even when things aren't perfect. We're always striving, and rarely thriving. If I can just lose this many pounds... If I can just get this amount of likes per photo... Once I hit this number of followers... When my hair is this long... When I make this amount of money... When I have this many kids... When this person follows me on Insta... When my thighs are this skinny... When, once, if...
When we form our happiness and joy and security on top of these superficial, non-life-giving things, we fall apart. There's no firm foundation to our meaning in life, so it crumbles. These are such temporary things. The hair, the social media, the weight, the clothes, the brands, the "success." We have so many beautiful things to rely on, and bring us genuine joy and confidence, but these aren't them.
*Sidenote: if you have an app that tells you who's following and unfollowing, creeping and who is showing you the most love... STOP. You're literally feeding into this insecurity and it's not a healthy way to live your life. If someone you know unfollows you on Instagram, oh well. Grab coffee with them in real life instead.
What are things that bring us REAL joy, contentedness and confidence? MAKE A LIST. Make an actual list with pen and paper, not on your notes app. Wipe the dust off that old journal of yours, or go and grab a new one. Or use the back of a Target receipt if that's easier right now. Just do it though. Write down the stuff in your life that brings you these things; the meaningful things in your life. The things on and off your instagram feed. I'll share some of mine. The things that I'm confident in; the things that bring me true joy and things that I know won't waver.
My faith in the Lord; Jesus Christ as my Savior. The GRACE that I get to live in because of choosing this, daily.
My family; my husband and my babies. The love I have for these people is incomparable to anything else in my life.
My community in real life. The people that "show up" in times of need, in times of laughter, in times of kicking back drinking mimosas and watching our kids play together. These times are priceless.
My extended family; our parents and babies grandparents. They lend support and helping hands constantly.
My body and it's ability to be strong, push through some really hard stuff in order to grow and sustain human life. (This is one of those things I struggle with comparing so often. Always have. My body shape is different. Sometimes it feels really weak. I often wonder if I'd be happier if my body looked "like hers," and fall into the trap of, "once I hit this weight, this size... then I'll be content," but those are the thoughts I try to combat with positivity and remind myself of the beauty and strength my body does hold... then I work towards goals, but with grace on myself and trying not to compare my journey with others.)
My apartment. It's not my dream home in the slightest. I don't love it; but I am so grateful for it.
The messy adventure we get to walk through. It's not perfect. It's not predictable. It's not easy to explain... but it's SO BEAUTIFUL. And it's ours. God's working a masterpiece, and I'm learning how wonderful it is that it doesn't look like anyone else's.
These are just a few things. But these are things that don't rely on false hope. These things don't rely on being perfect. These are things that I can be grateful for, and confident in every single day. This is the stuff that brings peace amidst the chaos and clutter. No matter how many likes a photo doesn't get or how many "perfect" bodies I see at the gym. I'm not perfect and won't ever be! Part of the journey is learning to be totally okay with that, and not determining my joy or confidence on attaining it. Otherwise I'll never be happy, ever.
To round this up, I think what we need to seek is peace. Peace in the small moments. Peace helps us find joy. Finding joy in all things, not just the things that bring us temporary happiness, but the stuff that really lasts for a lifetime. Jesus, people and ourselves. Go look in the mirror and say 5 nice things to yourself. Seriously. Go do it. Then do it every day, or every time you walk past a mirror. Even if you don't believe it, say it until you do. I'll even help you:
You're beautiful. You're strong. You're capable. You're a wonderful human being as you are. Your imperfections make you unique.
Your identity does not rely on likes, follows or themes. Your identity can be found in the Lord. He brings us peace and clarity and joy even in the hard times. He shows us who we really are; and gives us grace to live in that. He doesn't tell us to compare our bodies, our kids, our financial stability. He tells us to love him, believe him, and trust him... then he does the rest. I hope you can find peace in that, and not the false hope of perfection.