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Why are we so preoccupied by the “perfect”? Why the need to do things flawlessly and have things “just so”? Are we competing with others, scared of missing out, or what? Here are some reasons for the allure of the perfect.
You stand out
Having the perfect thing, whatever it is, may make you feel special. You’re the first on your block to have it. You are a trend leader. Everyone wants what you have.
I wasn’t terribly popular or influential in high school but I had some friends. One Saturday I went shopping with two other girls. I rarely bought anything when shopping with others, but there was this laughably ugly dress!
In 1970 I was still the product of my mother’s strict teachings about not combining patterns. That’s part of what made this dress such a design joke–the long bodice was striped black and gold, and then the flaring skirt was black with multicolored flowers on it. Therefore hideous in its makeup, yet strangely attractive. Must have been the Forbidden Fruit Factor. Oh, and it was marked down.
Long story short, I tried it on, it was fabulous, I bought it and wore it to school. Got a lot of compliments. My mother did the requisite 30,000 RPM in her grave off in Ohio. In two weeks there were ten more of those dresses being worn at my school. Freaked me out.
So, OK, maybe I wasn’t cut out for the fashionista leadership gig.
You feel in control
Many people now follow exclusive diets or have things they must consume in order to feel right. Some of them even have medical orders to that effect. But there are people who find The Perfect Diet Plan on the Internet and adopt it.
Why? Maybe it will actually help with the weight loss or gluten sensitivity. And maybe it’s a placebo effect thing. I tend to be a skeptic about all this drinking apple cider vinegar (an acid, by the way) in order to become more alkaline in your body. Among other things. But anyway, isn’t it nice to do something for yourself so you can live to 100 doing cartwheels?
Of course it is, if that’s what floats your boat. For those of us who have been drifting a long time and experiencing the vagaries of fortune, a little less adventure might be preferable. Just sayin’.
But it’s natural to want to get control of what you can get control of, to feel safer in this world. To get a longer life. To avoid misfortunes. Let’s face it: you can’t control a lot of things, but you can control what you own, wear, put in your mouth.
And if you have the perfect diet, you know what you eat is according to a plan that works. If you have clothing fitting you perfectly, it’s a bloody miracle.
You feel fortunate
Having the perfect things might be a badge of privilege, a way to look like someone others admire. So if you have the same kind of hairstyle your favorite actress rocks for a living, then perhaps you look fortunate, at least to yourself.
Not knocking it, really. After all, you should be happy with the way you look. It helps you start the day off on the right foot.
Remember Farrah Fawcett’s hairdo? Everyone had a shag after her. Once my waistlong hair got cut into a shag and settled down from the weightloss rebound, it was terrific for me. I don’t have any skill in primping, so blow it dry, drag a brush through it, and go is great for me.
Plus I didn’t really know much about Farrah Fawcett, not having a TV at the time.
Perfect is functional
The perfect stand mixer for us seems to be the Viking, now out of production. We’d almost killed a Sunbeam and couldn’t afford a professional mixer. We read the reviews: affordable and popular stand mixers wouldn’t stand up to regular bread making. (My husband makes our bread.)
So we passed by the others and bought the Viking the last year they made it. It’s loud. It’s red. It has more power and it does all the stand-mixer work very well.
In our house the perfect whatever is what gets the job done. It doesn’t have to be exclusive, just up to the job at hand.
My sewing machine is perfect. For a periodic cleaning and oiling, it does whatever I put it to, including hemming jeans, without a problem. It cost me about $200 in the murky depths of the past, and I’ve never had any repairs. I’ve made quilts, bridesmaid’s dresses, tote bags, whatever I needed to make.
That cheapish, durable, gear-driven plain-Jane sewing machine is the perfect machine for me.
No need to think if it’s perfect
Perfect for some people is whatever makes it possible for them to acquire a thing with as little thought as possible. All they need is ad copy saying “Here’s the perfect isofram for you!” and maybe a price point, and they’re off to get one of those very isoframs.
After all, if I were to tell you what your perfect isofram would be, even with market research and such, wouldn’t you think I was being a bit presumptuous? Yeah, I think so too. Yet the overwhelmed, distracted, spread-too-thin and unthinking among us may take the shortcut. They’ll go for the perfect isofram. dinner recipe, or automobile just to get the choice made with some assurance that someone, somewhere, says it’s perfect.
Find your own perfect
The allure of the perfect is more important to us than maybe we’d like to think. We may enjoy being in control, the envy of others, the imitator of celebrities, or even getting the right tool for the right task. Perfect turns out to be a personal thing.
So how to find your personal perfect? Here’s my list:
- Listen to your intuition. That joke of a dress looked like it would fit, so I had to try it. Things just tumbled out of control from there.
- Align what you’re willing to do with what is attractive to you. If Farrah Fawcett’s look involved rollers and styling, she’d have had fewer copiers.
- Do your research. Some of the “perfect” schemes and plans and things really aren’t a good fit for you if you look into them. Timeshares, for example. Don’t forget, perfect changes over time, whereas some contracts don’t.
- Let the tool fit the task.
Just some of my thoughts on the allure of the perfect in our lives. You can spend more time, effort and money on perfection than is wise. Optimize what’s important to you and learn to relax more. Perfection in everything is impossible and not worth your life. Comments?