A supernatural full-on transformation of epic fairy godmother proportions is the only option that has ever made sense to me, and though I have mostly dropped the façade that this is, indeed going to happen- part of me still secretly believes for it. But still, it hasn’t. And at age 29, I have yet to become “perfect.” I feel as though I have been misled.
Some kids, some teens, and eventually, some adults in my life have always seemed perfect. They’re not only attractive, but attractive all the time. Just worked out? No sweat—literally. Just cried—they just look more beautiful with that dewy teardrop peaking through.
They don’t bite their nails. They don’t have an opinion that is too strong to keep to themselves. They don’t get too emotional about anything, but they also never shut down to that numb state that comes from everyone telling you you’re too emotional. They know what is going on with the most popular films and sports teams, and know which topic will be popular in any given crowd. They are always dating someone- and if they’re over 25, they’ve married that someone. They never go anywhere alone- and when they look for company, they can always find a companion at a moment’s notice, whether romantically or platonically. They don’t break out into a giant pimple precisely every 28 days. They never look fat in their perfectly tailored ensembles. In theatre, they never have to be in the ensemble, as they are always, always granted a leading role.
I can barely cop to playing a leading role in my own life- nonetheless being cast in one in a show. In spite of my best efforts, I remain the humble sidekick. A little quirky, slightly misunderstood, rough around the edges, and best friend to the ingénue. Or at least top five.
Is some of this self-inflicted? Sure. Of course. Thanks Dr. Pavlov. I’ll send your check right away. Now every time I smell nail polish, I’ll go get a manicure.
But it doesn’t come from nowhere. I mean, but it doesn’t come from out of nowhere? See, even with my super-human grammar skills I can’t always figure out the right thing to say. Blasphemy!
So who do we blame for this? My parents? Probably. That’s a pretty safe default. Society? God yes, our society is a hot mess. That’d be so easy to justify. I could come up with a few sources of blame, and believe me, I have. But at the end of the day, that game always has more losers than winners.
But instead, what about this: What if it’s okay to be flawed? No wait, I see my own, “it’s okay to be flawed” and raise myself a “YAY. I’m interesting and not a follower, cookie-cutter-cutout, or anyone who’d really barely fit into any known archetype.” I’m just myself. Bonnie Joy Sludikoff. Nice to meet you. Charmed, I’m sure.
Now, I’m going to go ahead and assume no one likes this idea. It’ll save me the trouble of having my feelings hurt. People usually think my ideas are too ahead of their time. It’s like I’m chronically playing Marty McFly in that scene where he sings Johnny B. Goode to a bewildered crowd of teeny-boppers. But I’m right this time. I am!
Unfortunately, even if you agree with me, you’d be silly to disagree with me when I tell you that few of us live this way. I sure don’t.
Instead, I worry. I feel out of place almost all of the time. I aspire to a checklist I will never complete. One I’m not even sure I want to. But the more success I find in my life, the more people pester me to make sure I align with the checklist. Ironic, no?
I run a non-profit campaign, so it’s natural that the only acceptable emotional state is one of peaceful empowerment. I’m a performer, so naturally I always feel confident and look the part. I’m a professional editor so that means I never make typographical errors.
But none of these are true. The only truth is that people seem surprised at the inevitable.
Yesterday I spent the day at a cook-out with a few girls I would say put on a good show as being “close to perfect” only to eventually hear several of them bitch about their skin, their bodies, their love lives or some other complaint. So I guess we’re all just human. And maybe someday we’ll see that as a good thing.
Until then, all I can think to do is to try to give credit to others where it is due. And, just as importantly, to give credit where it’s not due, but just where it’s needed. We all need to feel like we’re okay; like we’re worthy, needed, proficient, valuable, attractive, talented or any other thing we long for. Because we are sure not getting anywhere near perfect.