By: Emilee Wolfe
As women, we so easily get caught up in what author Anna Quindlen calls “the dance of perfection.” The looks, the wit, the poise, the charm: from day one we are expected to keep up in this dance with perfect cadence. Our insatiable media consumption only serves to feed our perception of the ideal. Even when we realize our lives can never measure up, we continue to fan the flame by trying to convince others, and ourselves, that we can do it all—that we can take flawless #Iwokeuplikethis selfies during exotic vacations on our break from ending world hunger. We strive to portray our lives as perfectly manicured, covering any trace of messiness or brokenness, afraid to admit that these parts of us exist…afraid that revealing them would make us unworthy of love.
This fixation is further exaggerated in Mormon culture, I believe. We equate our successes and failures to our degree of righteousness. We place motherhood on an insurmountable pedestal. We spend our time poring over picturesque fashion and mommy blogs. We strive to be anxiously engaged in a good cause while forgetting that sometimes we are the ones who need help. It’s interesting that as Christians we so often allow ourselves to be driven by a works-based culture, rather than relying on the grace that is so central to our faith.
We continue in the illusion of effortless perfection, failing to realize that the concept itself is an oxymoron. As it turns out, the façade demands a great deal. Soon, the masks we wear, the smoke screens, and the dance become too much.
My perfectly woven story unraveled this past year, my final year at BYU—the time when, I told myself, I should have it all together. My life took a mental, emotional, and physical blow in searching for the perfect internship, in expecting the perfectly fulfilling relationship, in choosing the perfect career path after graduation. I let cultural pressures determine the paths I walked and dictate my worth, and in the process, I shaved my soul down bit-by-bit until there was very little of me left.
In the perfection dance, that’s what you lose: your soul, your spirit, your vibrancy, your passion, your sense of adventure, your love of life.
Yet, sometimes it takes losing yourself to find yourself.
Matthew 10:39 reads, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”
It took my debilitating health to teach me that being imperfect was okay. It took complete reliance on the enabling power of the Atonement to realize that love works only as a gift, never as a reward. It took losing myself for Christ’s sake for me to understand that I am fully His.