We love it when someone says ‘I get you’. It’s like a shot of approval dopamine runs through the body to signal acceptance, trust, safety and love. Most of the time you hear ‘I get you’ in the rare heat of a moment you’re describing a weaker side of yourself. A side you thought was pretty eff’d up. Then suddenly you share these same fears and vulnerabilities with another person? And you’re sitting there thinking ‘no way… she is a straight 10 and always happy! Why would she EVER have any problems as fucked up as mine?’.
Welcome to the blinding illusion of perfection. Paralyzing our ability to be honest, pursue a more authentic life and connect deeper since way back.
Brought to us by romance novels; where no one has jobs, lovers can read minds and aren’t irritated by any odd habits. Pornography; where the women never express the most common complaints in the bedroom. They’re never too tired to get it on for a solid 10-20 minutes. The men have absolutely no trouble sustaining performance in that time either. And women have what seems to be the most mind blowing orgasms expressed through their dulcet tones - every.time. Amazing, considering global statistics show 1 out of 3 women struggle to reach orgasm in sex. And pornography is most men’s first introduction to sex. What a massive disaster that is. Magazines, online content, media, and tv-series have relatable topics that give that hit of dopamine. And are laced with shock value, drama, and excitement. Things we only realistically experience every now and again in daily life.
This delicious hit of primal dopamine then forms what we justify a ‘healthy addiction’ to what is ultimately a scripted life. Exposed to our eyeballs, same time, every day or every week. Or we will gorge online because; we ‘just-can’t-wait’. It’s said we form habits in 28 days. Bootcamps, workout programmes and the like will promise this particular method. Especially for sustained results. After the commitment is set and the support is in place we work hard physically to meet those targets. Yet we let ourselves subconsciously work hard consuming content outside of our direct experience. And have created the most unhealthy habit of all. The paradoxical habit of inadequacy and forced perfection. There are many sophisticated ways this habit formed without us being aware of it. And there are many discussions that could attempt the explanation of its' origins. I won’t attempt the history here. I do just have two words for us to ponder… fear and filter.
Keep in mind most people have a day job. Most people sleep for 7ish hours - a lot are restless nights. Most people eat breakfast, have a shower and get dressed in the morning. Most people expect a lot. Most people are pretty disappointed with a lot of things. Most people get exhausted and irritable. Most people get distracted into the silent minutes of oblivion. Most people have random bursts of excitement. Maybe fantasize about being single again when reminiscing on that trip in summer, then go back to what we were doing. And maybe feel a bit guilty for thinking those thoughts later on in the day. Imagine filming or visually documenting that series of events. Unless you have some indie background music or hipster description, most would describe these scenes as ‘pretty bloody boring’. But that is most of life. Why are we so scared of that?
Why are we so scared of these precious moments where we get to explore this weird organism we are. Or try to solve the mundane puzzles of daily life. Like how our partner chooses to look at a whole lot of shit on facebook that they’ll probably forget in an hour. When we want so much for them to be making real moments with us instead? Or why our colleague doesn’t just close the door behind them every single time they come into the office. Even though you’ve told them 20 billion (yes actually 20 billion) times? Or why our flatmates will leave fish crusted plates in the kitchen for a whole month and keep cooking around them? Or why we feel hurt by other people’s actions in general? Then anxious about our own actions?
All these questions may seem dull on the surface. But each one itches an interesting discovery into our own psychology. How we connect. How we can tolerate others behaviours to a monumental extent. How our childhood affects us in adulthood. And how we can actually be ok with the word ‘ordinary’ whilst still pursuing our most ambitious dreams. All which can make us so much greater than we are. Some may think ‘yeah who cares I loving striving for perfection and doing all the racey shit that gets my blood pumping! I want to live hard then die. YEEEAHHHH!’ *rock on hands, closing eyes, teeth over biting the bottom lip, nodding head*.
Firstly, I totally get that. I’ve got thrill seeking and exploring in my blood and I am hungry to achieve all my heart desires. The concept of praising the ordinary and not so glamorous parts of our life isn’t about avoiding drive and discipline to achieve dreams. It means getting real about what life is and what we actually want. Sans the social expectation of perfection.
When we realise that life is a challenge, that people are strange, that annoying, ridiculous, painful or sad things do happen. We won’t waste time being as disappointed when they happen - we understand life isn’t perfect.
And no, we won’t be more negative about life - looking out for everything wrong in the world. It would be helpful to adopt this idea as a positive tool to enlightenment - not an opportunity to complain. If we use this concept in a productive way it would go a little something like this. E.g Go to leave the house, can’t find my keys. A small wave of panic internally thinking about already being late for work. Quickly realise it’s totally possible for this to happen. Take a deep breath. Retrace my steps. Look at the clock ticking. Have a big laugh. Keep looking. Find them. Go to work with the only time that’s left on the clock and the only energy available. Get to work. Get yelled at. Have a big laugh. Start work. This example displays the initial fight or flight instincts of the body perceiving this circumstance as a danger. Awareness kicks in and reframes the situation mentally. We physically calm the body down to dissolve the fight or flight response. We get to work practically. We realise how ridiculous it is and have a good old laugh at how shit life can be. No time wasted yelling, crying or throwing our toys out of the cot. It’s not about being a negative Ned, not striving to be the best they can. It’s actually about saving our energy to focus on things worth getting passionate about.
It’s about living with the quiet awareness of life’s flaws and laughing in the face of them.
Secondly, no one escapes the mediocre aspects of life described earlier - so we can never be “100% hardcore dude”. Thirdly, let me suggest a deeper look into that statement; Live-Hard-Then-Die. To what extent are we living our own life or attempting to recycle the lives and thoughts of others? Especially due to this exposure to sugary contrived content. The classic pangs of jealousy after watching a travel video, then spontaneously buying a ticket to Brazil in the same week. To what extent has the habit of inadequacy and forced perfection infiltrated or muddied our native desires for life? To what extent is this article my ideas or another person’s? We don’t like to ask these questions because the answers may not be ones we like to accept. It’s a struggle to be purely honest with ourselves because even we can’t bare to look at an imperfect reflection. Or maybe your answers affirm that you are in fact following your heart. In which case - you.are.living my friend.
And then we die. Humans are the only creatures aware of their mortality way before it happens. Thinking about death is maybe the most productive thing we can do for living a more authentic life. Instead of reflecting on it in a morbid sense.
Look at it as strategic planning. If we more or less know the result (death) we can backward engineer our lives.
A life based on the pulls of our authentic drives and desires as opposed to the push of others. It’s terrifying thinking about stepping outside any system to attempt an authentic life. Especially packed with imperfections. But wouldn’t it be more terrifying to know we will die doing what everyone told us to do - even though they are quite obviously not us. That’s eff’d up! I understand that we can’t escape other people’s opinions just like you’re reading my content. All these external things shape us for sure. And other people can be amazingly truthful mirrors for us. But I want to offer a transcendence of seductive content and externalities alone to guide our worth in life.
What I’m offering here is a hug for our broken selves. To say it’s ok to think we are weird. We probably are. It’s ok to think we are a bit over excitable or quiet or angry. Maybe we are just those things. I believe what matters is being honest about who we are and how we feel. And not in the romantic sense that we can share all our weaknesses, be heard and forgiven and happy days! We need an education on how to look at ourselves and communicate what may seem mediocre yet crippling parts of our lives. Parts that need airing out and dissecting for improvement. It’s hard to do that alone. We need to learn how to listen properly to all the sensitive, amazing humans that confide in us. With our phones out of sight, being present and ready to offer another perspective for potential healing and growth. Not just “there, there you’ll be fine *cuddles*”.
We need to be brave enough to love people so much that we hold a mirror to their flaws and encourage an analysis of them. Whilst at the same time holding their hand.
And not just to attack their weaker parts but to understand them and make peace with them. And love them just as much as our stronger parts. We need to be receptive to the caring reflections of others who genuinely love us, instead of feeling instantly defensive and hurt. We need to ask the right questions. Something as simple as “what do you really mean when you say ...? I want to understand” or “Have you considered ... as another way of looking at it?” or “When have you felt like this before in your life?”.
Imperfections are the allure of our beings. We are most drawn to humans we would call ‘natural’ - another term for people who generally don’t give a fuck. They know they aren’t perfect and they make us feel safe in their presence because finally, we can be imperfect together. I may not have the answers on creating better romance novels, better pornography, media or online content. I’d maybe suggest a healthy awareness of their intentions before indulging. But let us relax on this pressure to be perfect because the paradox is that people aren’t drawn to perfection as much as one’s true nature. And nature always knows best ;).