There seems to be a trend going around with young women posting videos on becoming “that girl”. You know the one, the one who always has her hair and make up done, who also looks enviable in a bikini, and is running her own business, plus has a beautiful family and her house looks like Chip and Joanna just renovated it? Usually these videos seem to involve early morning routines such as waking up at five in the morning to make your soy milk latte and meditate while also getting in your “hot girl walk” and yoga routine all before the sun reaches the horizon. Christians aren’t exempt from this, though we might make “that girl” seem more holy and less superficial. She’s the mom who wakes before dawn to do her own Bible time, praying for hours all before homeschooling her children and then leading a Bible study in her free time as well as volunteering for multiple organizations. That’s on top of keeping her house immaculate and making her kids wholesome meals that of course they all eat without complaining. Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but how many of us hold ourselves to these perfectionist illusions?
I’m all for making goals to improve my habits and to grow in maturity, but I’ve also been in a longtime wrestling match with perfectionism. If I can’t look like that woman on the cover of the magazine, then I’m not good enough. If my kids act crazy at the airport, maybe I’m not a great mom. If I feel awkward in social situations or say the wrong thing, I’m just a failure. If someone comes over and sees that my kitchen table chairs are covered in food and fingerprints, maybe that means I’m a sloppy, lazy person. Comparison is at the heart of much of this, but also this feeling that perfection can be reached or at least sought after long enough that maybe if I strive just enough, I will get close.
Chasing after perfection means I might throw in the towel on eating healthier because I had a cookie that I wasn’t planning on having that day; why not eat the whole box of cookies? It might mean I stay quiet at the party so I don’t accidentally say something stupid. It might mean never telling someone a prayer request that deals with my own sin and what I might be struggling with, and instead offering up ones for other people.
How about we stop trying to be “that girl” and instead try to be the “real girl”. Let’s face it, those women we see as having it all together, they are intimidating, they don’t feel relatable because in our minds they are pretty close to perfect right? Well guess what, it just means you don’t know them well enough, because every single woman is an imperfect human being. It’s great if she can inspire you to improve yourself in certain ways or live differently, but I guarantee you, she also has things shes working on.
I think I’ve recently been more aware of how much my social anxiety is caused by me trying to be perfect. I’m so concerned with always saying the right thing, and terrified of saying something offensive or hurtful or dumb, that I can’t just relax and enjoy the moment. Can you relate to ruminating over conversations you’ve had, replaying every last detail looking for awkward moments or things you might have said that were offensive? The fact is, we are all going to say dumb things, we are all going to offend someone, even unknowingly, and no one is perfect in social situations. Because I was always striving for perfection, I missed out on enjoying social situations and making genuine connections with people who do appreciate me for who I am. The same goes for body weight. I think every woman has looked back on a picture of herself and said, “Why was I so worried about my weight then? I looked great!” It’s because we were striving for better, more perfect, instead of enjoying where we were right then.
Perfectionism seems like a worthy goal to strive for. We all want to be better, do better, look better. However, maybe our goal should be more for progress and maturity and growth and not as much on outward perfection. Maybe instead of striving to be “that girl” we strive to be the “real girl”. There’s a reason Pinterest fails are so popular, and it’s because we can all relate to having an idealistic version of something in our heads, and reality turning out much differently.
Have you ever been around someone who was unapologetically themselves? They don’t try to hide their mess, they are relatable and fun to be around. They don’t worry about what they say or if their hair is perfectly coiffed. If you know that person, dont they make you feel more at ease about being yourself? Maybe if we can all be a little more real, and strive a little less for perfect, we can find contentment and joy in the chaos and in the mess and in the ugly even. I think there we will find deeper personal connections and more genuine aspirations for the real things that matter in life, like growing as people emotionally and spiritually, as parents, as family members, as friends and in our work. Let’s get #realgirl trending.