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!!

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