Teaching at an all girls schools in Memphis, TN in the mid 1990s was the best professional, and in many ways personal, experience in my life. Never before had I had the pleasure of being surrounded by so many girls and women. It was beautifully female 24/7…I was drinking the Kool-Aid of single gender education and boy was I hooked. These girls and young women were spectacular. They came to school to learn and to achieve and to grow and to lead and to succeed. The standards were high. The girls rose higher.
Years upon years in middle school classrooms have given me an awareness into not just beautiful adolescents, but our larger world. They are little mirrors of the million things that are right and the million things that are wrong in the world around them. We don’t watch them closely enough. We are far too quick to dismiss them because of their age, or their immaturity, or their hormones…But they are, and they live, truth.
Perfection in our girls rears its ugly head and wreaks havoc far too often in their young lives. Perfect grades. Perfect shoes. Perfect binder organization. Perfect hair. Perfect color coded notes. Perfect skin. Perfect attendance. Perfect life. A young woman in the choke-hold of perfection is one of the most heart wrenching tug of wars you will ever see. There is a battle deep, deep down in her soul that consumes her every thought. And it isn’t just our teenagers, is it? I see it everywhere around me in my own peers. Perfect family, perfect home, perfect marriage, perfect life…This ideal world we design in our minds stops us from being REAL. And if we can’t be REAL I suspect we can’t find the elusive HAPPINESS we all desire.
I cannot help but notice how many articles, books, posts are written around the theme of finding happiness. (Trust me the irony of that statement is not lost on me). I have declared over and over again that my husband’s brain tumor has been my gateway to finding my happiness, my true joy. I have thought and thought a lot about why that is, and I can only come to one conclusion…I just don’t give a sh*t about most things anymore.
I no longer strive for the perfect house, the perfect children, the perfect body… I understand that all of it is a farce. Fake. NOT REAL. I just want to be real. I want things around me to feel real. REAL lets me know I am alive. REAL inspires me. Real can’t be faked, and it sure as hell is not perfect.
What if we shifted the way we think about attaining ogoals (and the goals we set for our children) away from perfection and towards the idea of practice. My fellow yogis out there are smiling a little because we know, don’t we? Hold on though, this is not just a “yoga thing”. It is simply a lesson that can be cultivated from the practice of yoga. Yoga is never, will never and does not ever strive to be perfect. There is no end game. No finish line or perfect time or promotion or raise. It is simply a practice. (ok, not so simple but I won’t get on my yoga soapbox in THIS post)
How awesome if our children practiced skills needed to be life-long learners? How spectacular if we practiced being the best parents we can be? What if we practiced being a good wife or friend or community member? What if we used our strengths and practiced the art of creating a new business venture? Do you feel it? The relief of practicing. Maybe you could practice writing a blog (no don’t, I don’t need the competition).
Think about how freeing it is to say I practice having a great life. No perfection, just practice. Fall down? Keep practicing. Mess up? Keep practicing. Fail? Keep practicing. And what if you knew everyone around you was just…practicing. Whoa. Mind-blowing. Life-altering.
The unattainable is everywhere we look. And our girls….oh our poor girls…. not only do they see the unattainable perfection, they now live in a world where they have to also show their perfect selves. Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Facebook…What if we changed their conversation in their heads. No more perfect anything. Just a life in practice.