There was a controversy in the media last week when Anysha Panesar, from Wales, won America’s Perfect Teen competition.
“She’s not American.” — True enough
I’m willing to bet she’s also not perfect.
No one is. So to tout a contest that is selecting The Perfect Teenager is the antithesis of promoting:
- self-acceptance based on your own standards
- the recognition that mistakes and failure are normal and an opportunity for learning
- risk-taking because, hey, you might not be perfect
To me (and my friend Jill) the media should be questioning the concept of the pageant, perfectionism, rather than spending time on the superficial question of how could a non-American win the Perfect American Teen Contest – even though the rules allow international contestants. If it had been named the Perfect International Teen Contest would the media be discussing the larger issue of damaging our kids by leading them to believe they can be or should be perfect?
The Perils Of Perfectionism
I can still feel sad over the things I did not try in my life because I was afraid I wouldn’t be perfect and therefore look dumb; or be embarrassed, feel like a personal failure and hide in my room for the next two years.
Getting older has its benefits, and one of them is understanding and accepting (most of the time that is) that what I do won’t be perfect. I can write a blog for the world to see because I accept that it won’t be perfect. I also now know that the definitions of what constitutes a perfect blog (or perfect anything) would be widely variable, depending on who you asked. I can say happily my blog is good enough – sometimes gooder than others.
And what about my decades old business? It wouldn’t win a Perfect Business Contest. Should I then not be in business? Hope not because I love what I do and it works for me without harming the world. Granted, on dark days I can still tell myself the story written by my perfectionist critic, that because I’m not perfect I should give up and quit.
Should I not do yoga because I’ll never be as good as Iyengar or even the person next to me on the mat? I am practicing yoga to improve but if I think about perfection or comparison, I’ll stop practicing.
I know I’m not alone in this type of thinking. So let’s end the contests and looking for the perfect teenager, or perfect person, or blog, or business. It’s not attainable. Be willing to rewrite the story you tell yourself based on what’s real, and what’s kind.
Fact of the matter is I’m good enough. And so are you.