Make Me Perfect, Please

August 06, 2008

Who wants to be perfect? Raise your hand. (It’s tough to type with one hand so I’ll put mine down for now). Even as young children, most of us realize that perfection is a dream. But we still crave it, right?

You bet your britches I do.

The dictionary defines perfection with phrases like: the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art; a perfect embodiment or example of something; a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence; the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait. So who defines the highest degree? Who describes the perfect embodiment? Can I have that job?

You bet your britches I can.

I’ve always longed for perfection. As a small child, I hungered for the perfection I thought would make my mother happy. As a teenager, I chased the perfection I thought would make me loved by all. As a college student, I craved the perfection that would get me into medical school, get me the boy I loved, and snag my mother, too. As you can guess, I failed miserably time after time.

It turned out that I really didn’t want to go to med school. I also wasn’t suited for the love of my college life, and as for my mother, I realized her capacity to love me was already at its max.

Now I look back at pictures and see a thin girl who thought she was chubby, a smart girl who feared she was dumb, and a lovable young woman who failed miserably to love herself. How do we accept who we are? It seems so easy for some people. I envy them. I wonder if those lucky folks are wired with simple circuits, or if they are so complex that they’ve got it all figured out. Now, I know they’ve got that job I want.

When I was about twelve, it dawned on me that I loved the protagonists in great books despite their flaws. I then chose to view myself as a character in a fabulous novel, complex and flawed, beautiful and ugly. Then all those voyeurs following my life story would surely embrace me with open arms. They would love me for exactly who I am because without me, there would be no story, no purpose, no entertainment. No one else could possibly fill my role. I could be perfect because they would think I was. I was onto something but not quite there.

And doesn’t this smack of romance? How many times have we been swept off our feet, pulled toward the look in someone’s eyes that tells us we’re perfect, if only for a moment, if only for one night? Oh, doesn’t it feel so damn good? How I wish I could drag those moments out into hours, days, years. If I could capture the perfection that blinded them before they actually knew me, I’d float there and soak in it ... too bad that sponge got squeezed every time. As they saw my flaws seeping out, some hung around awhile and some ran as fast as they could. I failed every time.

If we’re lucky, those fantastical moments of perfection intermittently poke through real life. For those of us still job searching, we live in jeopardy of snatching at them, trying to build something that feels real. If you’re like me: a hopeless romantic with an overloaded imagination, easily bored, a dreamer, a believer in miracles, you may understand what I’m getting at. Some of us are far more practical. I used to think the hearts of practical folks beat much slower than mine. I found out I was wrong. So if you’re not quite like me, I’m guessing you get it, too.

I do believe in true love, the kind that lasts forever and embraces the sponge, full and empty. I think I’ve finally found it. But I can’t count on it anymore to make me feel as if I’ve reached perfection. The only way I’ll ever reach perfection it is to give it to myself, to define and describe the metric I want to hit.

But wait, that’s still hard. Well, nobody said life was easy. Who wants to keep trying? Raise your hand.

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