Four years ago, when I was in the heart of operation Get Tiny, my entire world was fixated on what I looked like and the steps I needed to take in order to affect that.
I forgot my quirkiness, my sense of humor, and my extraverted nature.
I didn’t want to go out with friends because that meant meals I couldn’t control and a potential skipped workout. AKA the end of the world.
It’s hard for me to remember how I thought back then, only that I felt utterly trapped but I didn’t feel that there was ever a way out.
Intuitive eating was not a concept in my mind, and if someone had told me about it back then, I don’t think I would have believed that it was possible.
I felt that in order to be “fit” and to look the way I’d always dreamed, I needed to follow the rigorous steps I had created for myself.
When the pounds starting rolling off (pounds I really didn’t need to lose), I felt that I was doing something right. That I was winning in the game of beauty. I looked at my body in the mirror, and flexed madly to see those lines on my abs that were the holy grail for me back then. When I saw their imprints, not even muscle, but just a body starved of necessary body fat, I felt sexy. I thought, this is what hot looks like. I didn’t pay attention to my bony limbs or the slightly concerning way my collarbone and hipbones jutted out, or how my shorts hung on me like on a clothing rack.
I would only obsessively examine my midsection, posing this way and that to see if I’d done it, if I’d achieved that perfect Tumblr fitgirl body.
I would stand in front of the mirror, pushing my butt out and angling my body in a way that made my legs look tiny and my thigh gap look huge.
I would do this every time I found myself in front of the mirror, terrified of glancing into it when I was bloated or sitting down or in any position that exposed my imperfections. Imperfections that I felt I shouldn’t have and was willing to do anything to get rid of.
It was like I was trying to trick the mirror, to trick myself, to see my body as perfect. And yet no matter how hard I flexed or how I twisted my emaciated body, I wasn’t happy with it. I still felt like my thigh gap could be bigger, like I wanted my arms to be more defined… My collarbones and hipbones were jutting out, my face had lost any softness, and I still thought I needed to be thinner to be “perfect.”
I wasn’t delusional. I looked in the mirror, and I could see that I looked sickly. That the number on the scale was all wrong for my height. That what I was doing wasn’t healthy. I had this particular body in mind that I was aiming for, one I probably saw on Instagram somewhere. But no matter what I did, how hard I worked out, how little I ate, I couldn’t quite get my body to look like that. Because my body will never look like that Instagram girl’s body. And that was my biggest lesson.
We are all different. We are not meant to all look the same. It is our differences and the things we consider our imperfections that make us who we are.
It was a long and difficult road to really drill that lesson into my mind. And the story of how I did that is one for another post.
But here are some things I learned about perfection along the way.
Perfection is an illusion
Everything you once thought was perfect on this earth eventually revealed its slight flaws. As a child, your parents seem perfect, but as you grow up, you realize they, like all of us, make mistakes and are just figuring everything out as they go. We’re all only human.
Perfection is unattainable
And once you realize that, you understand how futile all your efforts were. It’s unattainable because no one knows what it means. It’s a completely abstract term, some concept of the divine that we try to bring into our world. We aren’t meant to be perfect. We’re built with imperfections. They are what make us uniquely beautiful.
Perfection is boring
You know how when you’re young, you just want to fit in? To be like everyone else? Aiming to be perfect is the same because it robs you of your innate individuality. Your flaws, your quirks, your annoying little habits, they’re all what makes you you. And no, they’re not perfect, and you might not like them, but someone who loves you does.
The problem with perfection is there is no precise end game. It’s not a real goal. It’s like saying you want to make a million dollars in ten years’ time, or you want to be famous. Except those two are actually within the realm of possibility.
I realize now that my goal should never have been to have “the perfect body.” It should have just been to be the healthiest me I could without sacrificing my happiness or my life.
Don’t aim to be perfect. Aim to be the best version of you. Perfection is overrated, anyway.
Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud
No questions. Just your thoughts.