I was a perfect child. I did perfectly superb in grade school. To my recollection, my behavior as a child was also perfect. My parents might disagree, but their memory isn’t perfect. I wore my school uniform at the perfect length, carried the perfect school bag, and every day, I ate a perfect lunch. My life was just perfect! During my teenage years, I wore bell-bottom jeans with the perfect width bells. I used the perfect amount of make-up and I ironed my perfect hair perfectly straight. I waited for the perfect boy to ask me to dance to the perfect song, so we’d be the perfect couple.
I knew there were some things I couldn’t do perfectly, so I chose not to try. The list was rather extensive, now that I think about it: ice-skating, country-western line dancing, playing the piano, swimming, skiing moguls. Well, you get the idea. Perfection had me frozen in my own life.
Then one night I had a vision that haunted my dreams—I was 80 years old, rocking on my front porch, knitting a sweater, and reminiscing about my perfect life. I’d missed so much. In my dream, I always wore a perfectly ironed old lady cotton dress. I did a singsong repetition of, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow.” It was perfectly sad, to be honest. There was no sparkle in my eyes and my laugh lines were invisible. I don’t ever want to have that dream again.
I thought Perfect was a good thing. And then something happened to change my mind. I’d had gone back to college and naturally, I was a perfect student. Until one day, I opened my paper and there―perfectly centered on my imperfect paper―was a B+! Was this professor crazy? I don’t do B+! I am a perfect student! As I walked to my car, I heard a perfectly loud and clear voice shout, “Anne, get a grip!” No one was nearby. The sun was still shining. I was still breathing. I kept waiting for lightning to strike or at the very least a dark cloud to surround me. Nothing happened. I had survived imperfection. I didn’t have to be perfect anymore.
With this new sense of freedom, I felt such relief. But I couldn’t help thinking that I’d been so afraid to try new things, I had missed living a full life.
I decided to acquaint myself with Perfection and my new Inner Voice. Perfect has an English accent, spoken in a nasal tone. Perfect only wears perfectly tailored fancy suits and perfectly polished pump heels. She wears her hair in a French twist, and not a single strand is out of place. Coming in contact with flannel would make her break out in hives. She only drinks expensive, perfectly aged bottles of French wine from perfectly cut crystal. Perfect might actually be fun after a few of those bottles, but she is always perfectly sober. She only does the fox trot, and would never ever step on your toes on the dance floor. She would also never do the twist.
On the other hand, my Inner Voice has a sexy, raspy voice. She wears jeans and T-shirts, flip-flops and hats. She drinks cheap champagne and can out dance Perfect on a dance floor any day. She is not afraid to explore and try new things. Her motto is, “I want to live a life that makes the devil say, ‘Oh Crap she’s awake!’ as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning.”
I choose to listen to this new Inner Voice. What a relief to have perfection out of my life! Now I can learn to be better swimmer, try line dancing and maybe even try out for the Ice Capades. I could wear a tiny outfit of sequins and feathers. A strong handsome man would toss me into the air, and I’d land on my skates, ever so gracefully. The crowd will applaud wildly. I’ll hear the announcer comment on national TV that I have the firmest thighs he’s ever seen. Well, I guess that would be a little too perfect.