It’s a new year — 2022 is finally here! These last few years have been overwhelming and certainly taxing on my mental health. I think we can all agree that 2020 was a bit of a disaster, and 2021 was a tiny bit better. As for 2022, well, I am going to remain hopeful, but after the news of Betty White, it’s not looking too bright. But let’s go back to that 2020 disaster, shall we? The world pretty much stopped on a global scale, but my mind kept racing. My anxiety was at an all-time high, and my depression settled me in an all-time low. It never seemed to stop. So what ran through my mind exactly? Why couldn’t it stop?
I remember reading a post on social media that said, “If you didn’t come out of this pandemic with a side hustle, weight loss, start-up, etc, you’re a failure.” It had over 200,000 shares and 1 million likes. I was someone who didn’t come out on top of the pandemic. Not how they suggest anyhow. In a way, it solidified the fact that I failed and for obvious reasons, I’m not happy about that. I am not happy in general, really. I am not happy with who I am or where I am at in life. I could always be skinnier or prettier. I could definitely focus a little more in school; if I did, perhaps I would have my Ph.D. by now. I could just do better, or dare I say it… I could just be better. I truly believe the best thing I have going for me is being a mother, and I even fail to acknowledge that I am a good one because I know I can simply do more.
I am not ungrateful. At least, I hope I don’t come off that way. I have a wonderful life, a beautiful family, and I’d like to think I have a good heart. I just so happen to have an issue with comparison. I always compare myself and my life to others. It might seem a nonissue, but I think it’s important to remember, comparison is the root of greed — the root of all evil, and from that, stems so many branches. Comparison, not greed, is the opposite of gratitude. How does the old saying go? “All roads lead to Rome.”
The problem is, I have this idea of what my life should look like. I have this picture of what my family would look like someday. I have an idea of how I should look, think, act, and behave. But where do I get these ideas and pictures from? I’d like to think I am smart, but I am not one to create these ideas and pictures out of thin air. So where did my own self-expectations come from? Why do I hold myself to this unattainable expectation? A higher standard? How did I manage to assume this identity of this woman I don’t even know?
My theme of comparison, confidence, and perfectionism goes far beyond just looks and fear of judgment. For anyone who is familiar with my son’s birth story, you’ll understand why I compared my pregnancy to others, my body to others, and even my choices when it comes to how I wanted to raise my son. I am also guilty of comparing his milestones to my friend’s children. What I may not have mentioned to most people is that my pregnancy journey will likely repeat itself (at least, that is what my doctor said). This puts a damper on my lifelong desire of having a big family. After these reoccurring thoughts, I found myself extremely unhappy. I felt like I failed as a mother and was unworthy of being a mom. I felt like I let myself, my friends, and my family down in more ways than one. As my unhappiness settled in, bitterness decided to join the party.
The sting of bitterness became my reality just because I failed to acknowledge that everyone is different. We are all meant to be different. We are all on our own journey in life, and in a way, everyone is perfect just the way they are. So why do I crave the smaller waist? Why do I have a desire to lose the uniqueness of my life to be like everyone else? Why do I want perfection, and where did these thoughts come from? Why is being different so bad? What is it about perfection that I crave? On that note, who decides what perfection really even is? And who says we should all strive for it?
My question for you, dear reader, is this: What is your definition of perfection? Is it the same as mine? I hope not. Otherwise, there would be no uniqueness in life. I’ve realized that the life I thought I would have, was based on society’s expectations, and their definition of perfection. Maybe… just maybe, it’s time I stop comparing myself to others and what they tell me I need to do, what to wear, how to parent, and what to accept. Perhaps it’s time to enroll myself in Perfectionists Anonymous and break down how I can learn to accept myself and my life as good enough… even though it isn’t society’s definition of perfect. Instead of settling on everyone else’s definition of perfection, perhaps it’s time we create our own. More importantly, maybe we should look into how we can accept that our definition of perfection is perfect enough, and we don’t need to compare.