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On Letting Go of the Perfect Version of Myself

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Did you see her run past me?

I did. She had lovely blond hair and workout clothes from that expensive store Lululemon or something.

I heard her coming behind me because I was waiting on her.

She’s probably on mile 13 and I’m on mile .48 and my foot hurts. Old injury.

I see her running down the sidewalk ahead of me and I bet she even has a thigh gap.

My thoughts snap back to me as my thighs chafe. I know they say you can’t have a thigh gap unless you’re born with the right bone structure. But I wish I could go back to a day prior to thighs chafing and … oh … the awful clap when you sit down. I can barely type with the shame of that washing over me.

But let’s get back to our girl. She’s arrived home now to her four kids. Four? Yes, four. She had the exact amount both sets of grandparents and her friends wanted her to have. They’re beautiful. One is a set of twins but she does yoga so they pretty much just shot out themselves.

She kisses her husband and he pulls her toward the shower — and later, the bedroom — her libido knows no ends. She isn’t on antidepressants. Sometimes he has to say no.

After (yes, after), she heads off to work. Lucky for her, she knew what she wanted to do in 10th grade and joined the perfect resume building organizations but balanced it well with a few hobbies on the side (crochet club, anyone?).

I stumble slightly as I walk on the uneven pavement to my apartment. I think “budget friendly” may be the most telling description I could offer about our apartment.

The scent of weed and fish greets me as I walk by that one door on the way to ours.

I wonder what her house smells like? Not store bought chemical products, I can tell you that. She uses that Mrs. Grove stuff and vinegar mixtures.

I can see her now in my mind, cleaning off the counters because it’s Tuesday and that’s what she does Tuesday before work. She grabs the trash bag which is nearly empty because of the organics bin she has out back. It’s a pretty bin, too, with all those hippie words about protecting the future of our progeny. Sigh.

I grab a glass out of the drying rack (one less item to put away later) and fill it with milk. I wonder if down the road I’ll be where I want to be.

Then I remember how behind I am.

Our Mega Mom kisses her twins who are not yet in preschool and waves goodbye to the nanny. Mega Mom works in accounting and she makes the ladder of success look like an escalator she calmly rides up, up, up. She’s smart, pretty and morally sound.

I snap back to the present, try and make even the most basic decision. What should I wear today? Then it spirals into whether should get a stylist and how I can’t actually afford that, but to be perfect I’d definitely have a stylist and an interior designer. Everything would be so organized and just make so much sense when you look at it. Just like HGTV. I wonder if Marie Kondo had it right about folding your socks a specific way as I dig through trying to find a match.

A quick breakfast later, a kiss for my amazing hubby, a pet for my cuddly cat and I’m out the door. But I’m already so behind. Our mystery woman is well beyond me. Not just in her workday or family count but in everything.

I know she isn’t real. But seriously, are we sure she isn’t real? Her image follows me around and even stands like a lense between me and my vision for my future. I’m not prepared to let her go. That’s what it all comes down to. The perfect version of me lives on like a telltale parallel timeline. She whispers that I’m not good enough. She mocks my small footsteps forward and also my backward slides.
She is the perfect version of me. Or of a conglomeration of all of us, with a tint of my values sprinkled on her like pixie dust (yes, now she shimmers).

I can’t seem to shake her. I weigh big life decisions and I see her parallel timeline as if she’d made the other decision and it turned out so much better for her. There’s no way I can ever live up to her grace, beauty and motherliness.

I wonder which decision I made wrong that I’m not her, running down the sidewalk, being perfect. Or if it was a conglomeration of not wanting to make decisions or making the safe choices that got me here.

It’s funny, my life is actually really quite nice. I have a hubby who loves me, family and friends who seek me out to spend time together, a cat who cuddles me, a job that is secure.

My counselor says to be happy with good enough. It sort of grates against everything I’ve ever believed. Shouldn’t I want to be the best? Shouldn’t I strive for excellence? Shouldn’t I weigh every decision carefully to make sure I don’t misstep? Others may not have reached perfection but what if I could get close?

Good enough. It really does grate against everything I know. How can my apartment be clean enough? How can I just let things be good enough?

But deep down, I know that’s the only way to shake her. The perfect version of myself. Good enough. Good enough. Good enough. I need to let her run past me even if it’s hundreds of times a day. Even if I so desperately feel like I’m not good enough.

I hope you don’t feel the same way I do. With a perfect version of you haunting your ever decision and ability to function. But if you do, I’ll tell you that in the small moments where I let myself be good enough? She becomes less flesh and blood and more a fleeting image or a hologram.

I am good enough. You are too. Can we accept that? Can we let go of the ghost of our perfect selves?

Let’s try. Let’s be good enough.

Photo credit: Gaschwald/Getty Images

Originally published: January 23, 2021
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