For the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly reading a book by Brené Brown called I thought it was just me (but it isn’t). In it, Brown discusses shame, the ways that shame affects women, and strategies individuals can use to move past shame in your life and in to self-acceptance.
I’m really enjoying the book. It’s honest, real, practical, but it’s also uncomfortable and challenging. It’s challenging in a good way…but it’s not exactly fun to confront and work through the things in your life that paralyze you with shame.
Today, I read a section about this scene in the 1983 movie Flashdance.
We all wanted to be Alex in Flashdance. She was perfect — ripped clothing looked sexy; welding looked exciting; ballet looked cool and break dancing looked easy. But alas, the perfection was only an illusion. I was disappointed to learn that the film director used four different people to create that audition sequence: Jennifer Beal’s beautiful face, a professional dancer for the ballet scenes, a champion gymnast for the leaping and jumping and a male street performer for the break dancing. All those bad perms and all that money for leg warmers…for what? To try and achieve some level of perfection that doesn’t exist.
If most of us stopped to examine the expectations we set for ourselves, we would discover that, like the scene in Flashdance, our concept of perfection is so unrealistic that it can’t exist in one person. instead, it’s a combination of pieces or snippets of what’s perceived as perfect. We don’t want to be good at what we do, we want to be perfect — we want to edit together all the best clips of what we see to form our lives.
I know that there are plenty of extraordinary, multi-talented people in the world, and I don’t want to take anything away from them. But, I feel like there’s a difference between honoring and admiring the gifted and talented among us, and feeling like that is a norm that we should all be able to achieve in our own life.
As someone who has always strived for excellence in my life, I find it fantastically freeing to think that I don’t have to expect perfection of myself. Later in this chapter, Brown suggests that setting goals for growth and improvement is more empowering than expecting yourself to be perfect. I found that really resonated with me, and I hope it resonates with you this week!
I hope you have a week full of incremental improvement and growth! Do your best!
If you’re interested in reading Brown’s book, here’s a link!
I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”