I’m an only child. I used to ask my parents why, and every time they would respond: “There was no need to try again, we got it right the first time. You’re perfect.” Then my mother would hug me and my father would give me a playful pat on the back. This should’ve put my mind at ease, but it would only make me think harder. Am I really perfect?
The image that I’ve always held in my mind of Perfection has never looked anything like me. To me, Perfection is a faceless combination of characteristics that I’ve found desirable at some point in time. Perfection has the best grades in her class. She is beautiful, smart, and popular. She is the concertmistress of her orchestra, the drum major of her marching band, and the captain of her soccer team. She always succeeds at everything. She is adored by all her friends and family. She is in a loving relationship with a boy who has a bright future in government, the looks of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and the personality of Jim Halpert. Perfection is about to graduate as the Valedictorian of her high school class and attend Columbia (which of course she chose over Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Stanford, MIT, and every other college that accepted her.) After Perfection has her perfect college experience she graduates with her perfect degree, then she begins her perfect career with her perfect boyfriend who will soon make a perfect proposal to her. Then, Perfection and her fiancé live out their perfect lives together forever. It’s perfect.
As I mentioned, I don’t know exactly what Perfection looks like, but I do know what she doesn’t look like. She doesn’t stumble when she walks. She doesn’t have oddly long legs. She doesn’t have excessive fat. She doesn’t have a problem with her blood circulation that makes her hands purple when they’re cold. She doesn’t have fingernails that have been destroyed by obsessive biting. She doesn’t have blotchy skin. She doesn’t have a fat face. She doesn’t have eyelashes that are impossible to see. She doesn’t have a rare problem with her tongue that occasionally causes her to lisp. She doesn’t have freckles. She doesn’t have ordinary brown eyes. She doesn’t have unruly red hair that always sticks out in a crowd. And she’s not me.
Even my parents admit that I’m not even close to being comparable to Perfection. Every day, I hear about my imPerfections. Most of the time they’re imPerfections that they’ve already told me about, but sometimes I get lucky and learn new ones. The moment my mother walks through the door, she begins saying: “You didn’t get the mail, did you? You were supposed to. Why were you up so late last night doing homework? You know you’re not supposed to leave out the cereal boxes. I’ve told you before. How many times do I have to say it?” Her final question, I’ve learned, is rhetorical; she’s told me these things before, and we both know it. It’s bad enough that I make mistakes the first time, but the fact that I don’t fix them is just pathetic. When my dad comes home, it’s not as bad. All he does is remind me to sweep around the rabbit cage. It’s not much, but it’s still another flaw that puts even more distance between me and Perfection.
Don’t feel bad for me, I got over the fact that I’m not perfect and will never be perfect a long time ago. I only wish I could find something that I have in common with Perfection. Every time I think I might have found a similarity, I realize how Perfection is superior in that regard. I’m a pretty good violinist, and so is Perfection. Except sometimes I forget to practice. Perfection never forgets to practice. Perfection and I both have jobs that we enjoy, but Perfection makes much more than I do, and she got the promotion she was up for.
No matter what I do, Perfection will always be able to trump me. Hell, she can trump anyone. So why does Perfection even exist? Moreover, what’s the point of her? No one will ever be on her level; she just causes trouble. Everyone eventually comes to the conclusion that Perfection is out of their reach, and from that point on Perfection is just the fruit hanging above Tantalus’s head. The more we reach for her, the farther away she seems. We should get rid of her golden standard. Ironically, it would be the perfect solution.