So, ladies, what does the perfect woman look like? A high-flying career, a happy marriage to a handsome, successful man, beautiful kids and oh, a drop-dead, gorgeous body… Whew! Quite a list of achievements, don’t you think?
The quest for perfection is exhausting and unrelenting. The kicker is that it is not supposed to be this hard. We grew up believing that we are equal to men (and we are), that we could have sex whenever we wanted (and we can), children whenever we chose and work wherever we desired (thankfully, all true). We certainly have opportunities and choices that would have stunned our grandmothers!
Thing is, feminism was meant to remove a fixed set of expectations; instead we now interpret it as a route to personal perfection. Just because we can do anything, we feel as if we have to do everything! Indeed, rather than leaping with glee at the liberation that has befallen us since 1960, we are labouring instead under a double whammy of impossible expectations.
For the modern woman, day-to-day living has become a predictable series of checklists. According to Sydney-based counsellor and therapist, Jaqueline Stone, “There is a pressure to do more, to know more and to be more than ever before – and this is often connected to social media.” We are constantly exposed to, and compare ourselves to what everyone else is doing and saying. We look at other people’s lives and constantly question whether we are smart, beautiful, capable, or happy enough.
The result? We have become a generation desperate to be Wonder Woman; perfect wives, mothers and professionals. Even worse, we somehow believe that we need to do all of this, all at once, and without any help. In her book, Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the quest for Perfection, Debora Spar mentions that modern women morphed feminism into perfectionism.
Perfection is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame. We need to feel worthy and our worthiness is on the line when we are never thin enough, smart enough or talented enough.
So, why are we so terrified of not “having it all?” Many of us think we’ll be worthy if we lose 10 kilograms, or if we get that promotion. Thing is, worthiness doesn’t have prerequisites and happy, accomplished people take responsibility for the quality of their lives. They admit to their imperfections and embrace their idiosyncrasies. They feel worthy of love, respect and approval. The challenge lies in recognizing that having choices carries the responsibility to make them wisely.
So, disregard the critics around you and give yourself credit for having weathered tough times. Inspire others with your compassion, kindness and character. Manage time and energy as precious assets and believe in your abilities and talents. Understand that you’re perfectly imperfect and zing with joy each day you’re alive! Make sure to take time to nourish your body, mind and spirit.
All too often our quest for perfection prevents us from taking flight.
So, live your best life with what you have right now. Don’t emulate Wonder Women; think about what’s wonderful to you instead. Then boldly, audaciously and joyfully, leave the rest behind.
Source: blog.napw.com, www.newsweek.com, edition.cnn.com, www.news.com.au, www.glamour.com, edition.cnn.com, www.theguardian.com, webcache.googleusercontent.com, www.huffingtonpost.com, thinkbrilliantly.com, nishamoodley.com, wealthcareforwomen.com
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