I Want To Be Perfect. For You.

I have grappled with the importance of my appearance for as long as I can remember. I’ve written about it here. And Here. And here. And here. And here. Wanting to act and appear “perfect” so that I could hide my mounting imperfections behind closed doors has been an underlying theme in my life…forever.

Opening up to you, every single Tuesday since my first post back in 2015, has allowed me to peel back the layers and show you more of who I really am. It has been incredibly freeing and I am deeply grateful to you for being so accepting and understanding; for showing me love and compassion through it all. For reaching out and saying, “Me too”, in order to let me know that I am not alone.

Thank you. So much.

But perfectionism is sneaky and that little voice inside my head that tells me I am not good enough tends to rear itself as soon as I am about to embark on something new and scary.

I am about to embark on something new and scary this Sunday, and my desire to be “perfect” has reached an all-time high.

I’ve added in extra workouts (I hear the camera adds 10 pounds–GREAT!). I’ve been eating a little cleaner than usual for the same reason. I’ve had facials and manicures. I’ve had “hair trials” and professional makeup lessons and I’ve been shopping to try to find the right clothes to wear on TV because I’ve discovered that nothing in my current wardrobe is going to be…good enough.

On top of all that, over the last few months, I have contemplated injecting my face with Botox more than I ever have before. I’ve even taken a few business cards, searched online, and asked friends about their experiences with the procedure. I spoke with a doctor who offers these services and almost felt silly for not being ready to dive into the world of anti-aging procedures. Silly for even questioning my desire to look younger, fresher, less tired, less wrinkled. I mean, of course I should want to pursue these goals! Why wouldn’t I?!

I mean, it’s not like I am an “au naturel” kind of woman. I colour my hair. I wear makeup. I go for manis and pedis. I’ve improved my smile with braces…twice. I’ve had embarrassing hair removed. What the hell is the difference? Why draw a line? What’s all the fuss? Why not go for it? Countless women get Botox, even ones I respect for being their most authentic selvesWhy would I NOT want to add this seemingly innocent procedure to my repertoire, especially when it guarantees a baby-bottom smooth forehead and eyes that appear to have enjoyed 8 hours of deep, restorative sleep?

I will tell you why.

Because I struggle.

I struggle so much.

Because I so badly want to be PERFECT.

And what I know for sure is that my lessons live inside my struggles. In order to receive the lesson–to get full value from it–I have to sit with my feelings, as uncomfortable as they are. In recovery, I have learned that reacting in response to fear or shame or a need to be “perfect” never ends the way I want it to.

And so, I sit.

I sit inside these feelings that try to make me believe that I need to be perfect…for you. 

And inside this lie, I find the truth. The truth behind my feelings. The one that says, “If you believe I am perfect, then you can’t judge me or laugh at me or make fun of me or hurt me.”

The truth is, I know full well how flawed I am, and it pains me to show you all of my imperfections. But as I have been doing with this blog and my work, I am pushing back on those fears. The fears that tell me I am not good enough and to hide my stories and to feel shame around the things I’ve done. The fears that tell me my body isn’t the right size or shape; the ones that tell me my face isn’t pretty enough or youthful enough or whatever-the-hell-enough.

I see the women who post their fresh-faced pics with, “No makeup!” and “No filter!” as they’ve come from getting their lashes extended, eyebrows tattooed, lips injected, foreheads smoothed out and laugh lines filled in, and I want to jump in and do it, too.

I want to look like they look.

And I also don’t.

Because most importantly, I want to love and accept myself no matter how I LOOK. I want more ease in my life, and this focus on perfection causes me stress.

I believe we live in a society that places waaaaay too much importance on appearance; one that has created a warped social construct around beauty, which has been highlighted further since the advent of social media. By taking this position against getting Botox, I believe I am doing something to lessen its effect. Our standards are arbitrary, anyway, and it’s only when our appearance doesn’t match what we THINK we should look like that we experience shame in this area.

I have decided that until it no longer feels like struggle, I will resist the temptation to go to extreme measures for beauty–for perfectionism.

Until it feels like it is coming from an authentic place, I will not succumb to the desire.

As long as it feels like me wanting to people-please and morph myself into a version that will be more appealing as I embark on my latest–or my next–project, I will resist the temptation.

I will stop this madness.

I will accept myself as I am.

And I know, deep down, that you will accept me more in my imperfect state even better than you would if I showed up being “perfect” (as ridiculous as that sounds to even type the word).

My experience reminds me of Ann Lamott’s dying friend’s words when she said, “Ann, we don’t have that kind of time.” I don’t have the kind of time to keep grappling with it. And so, I am done. Until I no longer feel the pressure coming from a place of shame, I will resist Botox. If the day comes where I no longer struggle with perfectionism around my appearance, maybe that’s the day I will book my appointment.

And you’ll be the first to know.

Please know that this isn’t a judgment against those who get Botox or other procedures. I mean, none of us needs hair dye or makeup or nails or eyebrows or lashes. And none of us need face lifts or tummy tucks or breast reductions or implants or rhinoplasty, and yet I have known women who have had these more serious procedures done and felt the weight of the world lifted off of them! They have come into themselves and felt a newfound freedom and joy they hadn’t felt in years…or ever. I don’t believe perfectionism was driving my friends who I’ve witnessed go through these procedures. It was an act of self-love and self-care; a gift they gave themselves to feel a greater sense of freedom in their bodies.

Others, it seems, start with one area and can never, ever feel satisfied, so they continue to change their bodies and their faces and they wonder why changing the external never seems to satisfy the internal. For those women, and for me, too, it’s because this work is an inside job; not the other way around.

Honestly, I so badly wish I didn’t have this battle. I envy the women who tell me Botox is, “No big deal!” and who express their joy in having a younger, fresher appearance. I envy them because they don’t struggle with it. It doesn’t even register the slightest blip of shame inside of them. They go for it and don’t have any trouble with their decision.

I believe that if we do things that cause us to feel shame, then we need to look deeper. The women I know who have gone under the needle feel absolutely none. To them, getting their Botox treatment feels the same as getting their nails done. For me, it is a very big deal because it hits a nerve so deep inside of me that I feel the heat and the throb of it even when I simply think about it.

Brené Brown says, “When perfectionism is driving, shame is always riding shotgun. And fear is the annoying backseat driver. We struggle with perfectionism in areas where we feel most vulnerable to shame.” I feel most vulnerable to shame where my appearance is concerned. I know why; it isn’t a secret that in my family, we valued looks over feelings, and I have been working to untangle myself from these deeply rooted beliefs…for years. And it is all rooted in fear. The fear of judgment and criticism.

But what I know for sure is that if I ever plan on having any kind of lasting career where I am in front of people, I will need to get very comfortable with judgment and criticism.

The fact that my new talk show is LIVE isn’t lost on me. I mean, it doesn’t even have to be live–I could have chosen to tape the episodes, allowing for mistakes to be made and edits to cover them up. But going live means I have no choice but to be who I am–flaws and all–and allow for the uncertainty and my own fallibility to force me away from my desire for perfection.

And that scares the crap out of me.

But that feeling always signals that I’m doing something good.

So, here I am.

Perfect in my imperfection.

Just like you. Just like all of us.

Because I want you to love your life one bite at a time.

P.S. Let’s TALK! I’d love you to scroll down to the comments and let me know your thoughts on perfectionism, the social construct around beauty, procedures, all of it. I will be curious to know how you feel about this topic.

P.P.S. I’d love for you to check out REALTalk With Sarah on TV or online! It’s a show that goes deep into topics of wellness that are often ignored. The show premieres on Sunday September 16th at 8 pm EST, and if you live in or near Ottawa, it airs on Rogers channel 22. Online, you can head to the Rogers 22 Facebook page and I also plan on sharing the link to my own Facebook page. I’d love to have you with me as we embark on a journey towards greater health and wellness…together.

P.P.P.S. If you would like more information about my “One Bite At A Time” Group Coaching Program, please know that Registration has closed for this round, but I will be re-running it again in the winter. Please email me at Sarah@SarahTalksFood.com and I will place you on the wait list. From there, we will set up a short phone call to ensure we are a good fit for one another. If I feel I am not the best coach for you, I may refer you to others in my network who might be better suited to help you achieve your goals.

P.P.P.P.S. If you haven’t already signed up, you might enjoy my 14 Days of Wellness. Simply enter your name and email address here. It’s free, with no diets, products, challenges or catches (you’ll just start getting a Tuesday email from me and you can unsubscribe at any time). I’d love to stay connected. xo

P.P.P.P.P.S. Let’s be friends! I’d love to connect socially on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram

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