Letting Go of Perfect

Women are perfectionists, or so I have been told. I know I tend to be. Unfortunately, this is a difficult trait to have. Still, women insist on having things just so. There is an innate desire in women to have everything perfect, and perfect doesn’t exist.

I have learned that wanting to be perfect can bring us down and make us unhappy….without reason!! We want to have perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect body, perfect relationships and perfect life. A tall order indeed and I will attempt to tackle this unrealistic wish.

In our youth, when we were so clever and thought we could change everything, we relish the fact that we looked good….at least some of us did!! We were admired, we made men turn their heads to look at us, we thought we were so hot…..at least some of us did!! The thought that changes will come hardly ever entered our thoughts, did it? Well, we should have paid attention.

When Time moved on and left its marks on us: wrinkles, grey hair, sagging skin, some of us couldn’t grasp the onslaught. It was too much and we were not ready. Never mind the emotional and mental upheaval. Other events like divorce, losing a spouse and starting over alone, becoming an empty-nester, being made redundant, retirement, came as well seemingly at once. We were overwhelmed and rightly so. What to do? How to overcome these changes?

Suddenly, we had to let go of perfect. Easier said than done and a lot of us tried to hold on…..at any cost. There were creams and surgery, untold hours at the gym, diets, supplements, fillers and Botox. Nothing was left to chance for many of us. Of course nothing can stop Time, its course is steady. Others looked for different solutions and found that Life can be so liberating once perfect is out of the way.

It wasn’t easy. Journalist Vivian Gornick, said: “Tomorrow is here. Now I am accountable. Now I must do it. More important will I?” Indeed, will I do what I know is necessary to live my life to its fullest? Accepting what we cannot change is hard, but it’s the only way forward. So some of us, just breathed deeply, looked ahead and tried to walk though this new stage. After all, the alternative was worse. This doesn’t mean we let ourselves go. We just decided we would not go to extremes.

As others before me, I decided to age gracefully, to accept that Time will win regardless of what I do to stop it. Do not get me wrong, I intent to do this with a plan. My first step was to Toss aside all my preconceived ideas about aging. Before you say anything, I want to say it was not easy and definitely not pleasant at the beginning. We live in a society that worships youth. There are few examples of fabulous women of a certain age out there. This is because the media doesn’t really pay attention to them!!! Think Helen Mirren, Christine Lagarde….I am sure you can come up with many more. Older men, however, are everywhere and are called things like statesman and other exalted names.

Here are some of the things I have been Listening to in the last year or so:

I have accepted that this time in my life is mine, it’s for me to be ME. This is very important. Women tend to have time for everyone in their lives. They play every role and most of us do it without complain. It is time to do for us. I allow myself to take ME time when I need it and strive not to explain.

I have listened to myself and realized that it is alright to be assertive. This can be a real struggle, but it’s so satisfying. As I have said before, say NO when you mean NO and YES only when you really want to. To quote journalist Katherine Weissman: “Over the years I have learned to assert my rights, own my successes, get angry and not apologize so damned often”……a lesson all women should learn!!

I have decided to truly like myself as I am aging. Looking in the mirror is painful for many older women. Accepting who we have become is the only way to live at peace with ourselves. No amount of wishes will stop the changes we are experiencing……but there are ways to make the best of them. Really, there are!!! Embrace yourself, feel beautiful in your own right, be happy and this will show in the way you look, the way you carry yourself and the way you live your life. “Make an asset of your flaws. Wear feathered hats and high heels shoes. Affect an English accent. Carry a falcon on your wrist.” Tina Howe, playwright. Isn’t this a marvelous quote?

Of course, I also have let my hair go grey and I am loving every minute of this journey. Today, my daughter told me I look and act so much happier now. Since I changed my look, she says, I am a different person. Love it!!!

Finally, hats off to the women that have always coped beautifully with the changes age brings. They accept and get ahead without much bother. I admire them!! Now, if like me, you are not one of them…….please try some of these ideas.

P.S. The quotes on this post come for a most wonderful book I just discovered:

In the Fullness of Time by Emily W. Upham and Linda Gravenson

It is an anthology of essays by 32 women about life and aging. Do yourself a favor and get it!!


10 Replies to “Letting Go of Perfect”

  1. My age is starting to show…but I’m okay with that. The hard time was after I had my first child. Even though I was skinny again…the skin on my abdomen and other parts have never looked the same. It left me super self conscious. Somehow now I have finally accepted it (took 12 years) and love myself the way I am. It’s the perfection thing getting me…perfection not in looks but everything else. This blog spoke to me directly…wisdom and experience is priceless. Big hug Mercedes!

    1. I do understand, but when we learned to accept ourselves, we love ourselves. Oh, yes, I need to tackle that subject soon: there is no “perfection” to be achieved in any aspect of our lives. We must remember this. Thanks for visiting and come often….xoxo

  2. fully agree Mercedes, accepting to grow old gracefully, assertiveness without being aggressive, etc, etc you covered a range of “attitudes” that are positive & mentally healthy. Indeed, No such thing as perfect, yet we are our imperfect self with the humble daily goal of improving our inner self & our tolerance of imperfections. you go girl…and in closing, I agree with Camille! miss you my dear friend

    1. Yes, I have learned…slowly…that we should enjoy every stage in our lives. I remind myself every day that we are “perfectly” imperfect and that is as it should be!! Thanks for the compliment and I miss you too 🙂

  3. “Time is the justice that examines every offender” W. Shakespeare
    For me this process is not easy, even though, I have always been aware that nothing is ever perfect and personally I never achieved the ‘look’ I wanted….
    Curiously, as I strived for perfection, I saw my mother and grandmothers grow old so graciously…the former never stop believing in her beauty and attraction and the latter accepting and enjoying their old age; never complaining or blaming but rejoicing in their accomplishments and experiences. A great life lesson….

    1. Yes, it’s not easy. Our mother and grandmothers belonged to another generation or maybe, they were just three of the fortunate ones that can go on without a bother. I am not one of those, as I said. Accepting and moving on is the only way to live at peace with ourselves, so I keep trying. Have to say it gets better.

      1. you are so right, I feel young, act young but….. look my age. Most of the time with a big smile because I made it this far. Sometimes a bit gloomy because I would love to take off ten years and run around again.

    1. Irene, trust me I don’t either, but there is no changing what is happening or stopping Time!! The only way I found is walking through this process, as Winston Churchill once said: “If you are going through hell, keep going”. I want to believe that we do not grow old, we slip into our years and must do it with grace and humor!!!

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