I tried being perfect and I can honestly say that it was truly the worst 30 years of my life. I don't know what happens when we get to the age of five - it's like there is an internal switch that tells us to become people pleasing, wanting to fit in, attention seeking humanoid robots, but that's when it happened for me.
Growing up I always heard, "She's so pretty for a dark skinned girl," and I couldn't understand why people said it is if they were surprised simply because of my complexion. I grew up thinking my complexion was horrible thing and I started hating myself at a young age.
I remember being five years old and a friend of mine with silky hair decided to dump sand in my freshly pressed hair. I knew I shouldn't have let her do it, but I didn't want her to feel like my hair was different than hers. I was ashamed of my hair.
At the age of twelve I begged my mother to put a Jeri Curl in my hair because I wanted to feel my hair move. Only problem with that was the stylist put the chemicals in my hair twice and my hair fell out.
My thirteenth year found me struggling with fitting in with people who looked like me. I was living in a predominately African American city, but I didn't, "talk like everyone else." So I spent the year trying to speak using the black vernacular at school, and speak with proper English at home. I wasn't good at it and eventually, the two worlds collided and after a few months I found that I couldn't put together a good sentence - written or spoken.
Age 18, I started entering pageants to somehow validate that I was pretty beyond that of being a dark skinned girl, and in that world I soon found out that complexion still played a role. In addition, my weight and talent were also criticized so I found myself in the gym three times a day and barely eating.
Adulthood descended upon me like a hurricane. I found myself chasing after people, places, and things that were considered great. I wasn't happy unless other people were happy with what I'd done. I didn't feel fulfilled unless I was celebrated for accomplishing something, and when that didn't happen I was left empty.
Things did not begin to shift until I hit age 35. All of sudden, I realized that pleasing others can be toxic . You find yourself making decisions based what you think will make others happy. Of course this doesn't mean that bringing joy to another person isn't rewarding, but when your every move is made if and only if you believe someone else will approve of it, you will find yourself dependent on the attention that comes from other people.
Here is what I have come to learn about approval from others...it is but a vapor. Approval from the masses is fleeting and shifts with the wind or next big thing. So why get caught up in it?
I find perfection in my uniqueness. Think about it, some of the objects the world values the most - antiques, diamonds and other precious gems, rare talent, and more are seen as valuable because they are different and hard to find. I now celebrate that my quirky loudness makes me peculiar, and I am fine with that.
I now pursue those things that bring ME joy. Chasing what everyone else deems to be great only means that we are running after the same pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. If we all reach the same pot how much will truly be left to go around?
Yep, I tried being perfect and it was the worst time of my life. I'm glad to finally be on my own journey!
l am a little nerdy, a little quirky, a little glam, with a whole lot of personality! A wife with four children and a furry puppy, there is never a dull moment.
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