Living in the Republic of Good Enough

We all struggle with our cultural norms for excellence and perfectionism. It’s like we can never measure up. And the more we strive and the faster we run and try to measure up, the less we do. It’s like chasing an impossibly moving emblem.

Perfectionism has impacted all of us in countless ways. We have all tried to measure up and excel against a tide of discontentment and anxiety. After all, it’s hard not to be overwhelmed, frustrated and downright anxious when we never feel good enough and we’re always chasing for something that’s unachievable anyway.

When we buy into this kind of perfectionism, I think we are bargaining with the very fabric of who we are and what makes us human. Further, we are creating an unquenchable uneasiness in our very being.

Yes we’re all imperfect. But there’s a beauty in being imperfect. We have room for growth and being better than yesterday, but on our own terms. This is something that we can each decide for ourselves without outside pressures from our culture.

Sadly, with this perfectionism, our culture brainwashes us to believe in and strive towards, is basically unachievable. No matter how many products we purchase and how we aspire to be like Miley Cyrus, we are still who we are.

The real issue with the way our culture perfectionism is that it makes us feel unworthy and the fabric of our being is eroded. This is especially the case for people who can’t afford to buy the latest gadget, perfume or designer jeans. Our culture makes all of us feel like unless we buy this particular product, whatever it is, we are less than everyone else.

But is this really the case? Are we less than just because we can’t buy whatever is demanded of us through social media platforms, or are we being reflective of our own choices and making decisions that are in line with who we are?

Perhaps having designer jeans is not something that impressed us ever. Perhaps we want to wear yoga pants or sweatpants. Why should that make us feel less than the other person who has purchased these designer jeans and has modeled them all over social media as a way to shame us into buying them, whether or not we can afford them?

The reason why many of us will buy the designer jeans even if we don’t feel like we want to is because of pressure to conform. We all want to be accepted by others and to fit in. And this isn’t only a problem for teens. It is a problem for all of us, sadly. We all want people to like us and accept us. And we will do anything to make sure that it happens.

However, here’s the real issue as I see it. If we keep focusing on all the extrinsic ways that we can feel worthy, we will never feel worthy. Why? Because feeling worthy is an intrinsic endeavor. In other words, we can only feel worthy from the inside out and not the other way around.

Therefore, to be happy and content, we have to get off the bandwagon of perfectionism, a perfectionism that’s unattainable, and get on the train of good enough. It is from this place that we can embrace who we truly are and celebrate it. It is also a place where we can find unconditional love, acceptance, and compassion. Unfortunately, we’ll never find in a vapid culture of consumption.

We all have to decide how to live, in the impossible throes of perfectionism that’s created and recreated by our culture of consumption or in the republic of good enough.

Please take some time to think about this. Your mental health and well being and self-worth depend on it!

Irene Roth