Our social experience is constantly putting pressure on us to do better, be better, "be the best version of ourselves". While I thoroughly believe that we're all in control of our reactions and responses to external stimuli, I would argue that this push for perfection begins with the most common form of input: the media, and the impact is great. TV shows, movies, Facebook, Instagram + the internet in general, magazines, advertisements. All it takes is a commercial, a glance at the cover of a magazine, or a "10 Things You Can Do To..." list on Huffington Post and we immediately jump to thinking: I should do this. I need to change. Subconsciously, it communicates that who you are right now isn't who you should be. <Insert feelings of inadequacy here.>
It doesn't matter which direction it's coming from. We've all got that "thing" that we don't love about ourselves. In fact, most of us can come up with more than one aspect of ourselves that we wish were different. For most, it starts with our physical appearance but can go deeper into the choices we make: regretting that slice of cake, wishing we had more patience, criticizing our impulsive tendencies in conversation, creating big goals but continuously falling short.
THE BEST ALTERNATIVE
It's hard to keep up. Step one is just recognizing that where you're at right now is where you need to be. Moment to moment. Minute to minute. Hour to hour. Part of the big sigh of relief in all of this is that letting go of control: surrendering to everything you physically cannot change, embracing all of what you can. (Serenity prayer, anyone?)
LETTING GO OF EXPECTATION
As I've mentioned already, we're continually pushed by the media to change who we are. Not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not rich enough, not healthy enough. Look at what you've got: your 5'5 frame is what it is - you're not going to grow a longer torso overnight and your legs also aren't getting any longer (sorry). Maybe the career you picked doesn't have you rolling in Benjamins or going on Target shopping sprees, but you pay your bills. All of this is okay. Who you are and what you've got is good enough. Seriously.
EMBRACING PERFECT IMPERFECTION
As humans, we make choices and and then sometimes later realize that a different choice might have been a better one. Life is one big learning experience. Embracing that is a giant sigh of relief. There is no perfect diet, there is no perfect yoga pose, there is no perfect relationship. There is no perfect anything. PURE bliss, however, exists: feel it. Soak up everything you love right now, over & over & over again, and be so grateful. We can make baby steps toward goals that are true to who we are at the core of ourselves. Who you are right now is who you are right now. Simple and true. Gratitude is everything.
I'm absolutely not telling you to forget making goals and trying to better yourself. That's part of finding success personally and professionally. In a sense, it's healthy to always have things that you're working on. It's an old cliche, but Rome really wasn't built in a day, and I'm guessing there were several mistakes made along the way (and I've never been there, but I'm also guessing it's not perfect). Setting goals doesn't have to be overburdening: read this post on setting goals if you're looking for tips + tricks that help you identify which changes would benefit you and how to make them a reality.
COMING FULL CIRCLE
There's a reason the media is so successful. In a certain light, it's a regular part of most of our daily lives (you found this post somehow, right?) that continually forces us to look at ourselves, giving us ideas, spurring the thought process, and maybe even helping us act on certain behaviors or actions we've been meaning to start. In this sense, our media is a great thing. But we have to be so careful. Careful not to get caught up in the perfection piece. Most people aren't posting their slip-ups and failures on Facebook, even though they have them. I've read some amazing articles in print and digital media about being okay with what is, but they are far less common than articles suggesting ways to change your body or your habits.
Take from this what you will, but know that you've got control over your thoughts and not much else. Where your attention goes, energy goes. Remember this and give yourself credit for doing your best and keeping up despite everything around you constantly changing. Now take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and sink into the fact that you've got this: you are perfectly imperfect, and you are human.
Imperfections are not inadequacies. They're reminders that we're all in this together. - Brene Brown