Perfect time to clear the air

Liz Breslin
Liz Breslin
I have long wanted to wring the neck of the person or people who intimated that life should be fair. Because, reality check, it isn't and never will be, so get over it, Librans and egalitarians.

But there's something that irks me far more just at the moment. And that is saying something. And I feel like I am going to say a lot of irrational things. Because sometimes you need to rant. And the thing I would like to rant about is the deceptional delusion that is perfection. Grr.

Perfection: completeness and flawlessness. In my hazy Sunday school memory (before I got chucked out for ‘‘knowing all the answers'' - true, that) I recall it as the state that religious folk are always yearning for and never quite achieving. Like Matthew never quite said in his gospel: ‘‘Therefore ye shall be perfect just like God is perfect, even though ye know it is impossible because it is elsewhere contradicted.''

It's the same ploy that women's magazines use to keep us buying in. How to achieve the perfect job/partner/orgasm/dinner party/parenting strategy. Of course the recipe changes with every publication and this is but one of the problems with perfection. While it masquerades as an objective definition - go the perfect score on your maths test - it is, basically, judged subjectively. And as such exists only in the eye of the beholder. Like beauty but way more stymying.

It bothers me that when I Google the word perfect, I get pecs (and a One Direction song), as well as a list of predictive suggestions. Nose? Teeth? Breasts? When did perfect become such a visual feast? Grrr. Why doesn't Google tell me about Euclid's elements or something equally erudite? Is that just my algorithms or a more insidious trend? Like, perfect is something you can brush on for size. Like the whole don't photoshop me no more debate.

I watch people practising the perfect, tense. (Sorry, that's a very bad, imperfect English Language Teacher riff, but I let it ride because I am concentrating on demonstrating my ragged, inadequate rant.) Practising the perfect involves having the look and knowing where to post it.

There is no substance beyond. It's not like fake it until you make it. It's like fake it and fake it and fake it and don't even stop and breathe and feel it. And if you can't make it look perfect, then just laugh and don't try, because there's no place in Perfect World for anything as unsexypeccy as effort.

But the scariest thing for me about perfection is the boredom it implies. Because when you are perfect, you've made it, complete, congratulations you're there. And how boring that must be. And how unsettling too. Once you're perfect, you've basically got to stay there, angelically flittering slightly ahead of the pack. Or risk a fall from grace. No wonder we're modelling unrealities and insecurities to each other if this is the game we're playing. And many of us are. Check out the pressure to eat/partner/parent properly. Check out the recent Facebook motherhood challenge. Check out the major disconnect between how we portray ourselves online and how we offline behave. Is it coincidental that the original word ‘‘avatar'' is Hindi for ‘‘a deity or soul released on Earth''? We are making perfect shrines to ourselves and burning in their wake.

It's like Paulo Coelho and Harry Styles said (pick your pop culture!) ‘‘Perfect people aren't real and real people aren't perfect''. And yes there's all that stuff about skidding to the grave with a martini in one hand and a heel off your shoe and embracing the chaos. And I'm all about that: you should see the state of my house and my mind most days. But I think the shimmering myth of being perfect or reacting against it does way more harm than we debit it with: it is not perfect, or nothing, that defines us. It is kindness, it is connection, it is curiosity, it is effort. It is worth getting up in the morning just to see what happens. Mess up a bit. Get your grrr on. Rant a little.

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