Magazines, television, internet, Facebook…. it all has a lot to answer for. It’s way too easy to look at people’s snapshots of their lives and see their perfect family, perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect life, perfect them. Magazines and TV can be more easily rationalised as untrue – everyone knows models are airbrushed – but your blasts from the past can be a little more difficult to brush aside. If Philomena*, the slightly gawky girl from Year 9, made it to be an internationally acclaimed nuclear physicist, able to work 28 hours per day, while juggling dropping off her three angelic children at school and be home in time to take them to their ballet, polo and piano lessons, before cooking a delicious and nutritious meal, where they will all sit down (along with her husband, Walter, home from work as a hospital consultant, with just a little stubble now visible on his chiseled jaw) and discuss their days over dinner, then enjoy a fun game of Monopoly… why didn’t you?
In contrast, your day seems to involve rushing the kids to the school bus, while wiping toothpaste off their chin (the saving grace being that they remembered to brush their teeth!) then racing to work, where you bustle through, hoping you’re doing it right, hurtle home to clean up before the children finish school, and try to throw together something edible ready for when they get home from football practise. You mop tears (their and yours) while they try to do their homework as you wish you could remember what you’d learned at school, then once they go to bed, you just about manage to summon enough energy to put the television on and mutter a hello to your husband while you eat the leftovers out of the back of the fridge and try to remember to go to the supermarket tomorrow.
Of course, we all know that people present the best possible image of themselves on social media, and in reality Philomena probably envies the relaxed household that you live in, secretly resenting the money she feels compelled to spend on her weekly hair appointment, just so that she doesn’t feel like an impostor in her own perfect life. But it’s hard to feel like that when you are muddling through, winging it and playing at being a real grown up, waiting to be caught out by the people who know better. But that’s just it… we are all muddling through, doing the best we can. I am not sure anybody actually feels good enough. A very wise man once told me that the time to worry about not being good enough is when I stop worrying about not being good enough. The fact that I want to be better is what makes me, at the very least, okay.
Nobody is perfect, and nobody has to be. I tell my children that I don’t expect them to be perfect, but as long as they do their best at whatever it may be, then that’s all anyone can ask of them.
Life isn’t perfect, but it’s made up of lots of little imperfect moments that form perfect memories. That day when everything went wrong? The children screamed, the boiler broke, it rained all day and you got soaked to the skin? And then the children got a blanket, you made hot chocolate and all curled up in front of the TV? There’s (im)perfection in that, and it’s perfect in it’s own way.
There’s imperfection in each of us; but you are perfect at being you.
Enjoy life: Eat the cake, dance in the rain, be silly, hug your children. Be the best version of you, and to paraphrase Doc Brown, the future is whatever you make of it, so make it a good one!
*all names have been changed