Am I Perfect Yet? (pt 1)
I was constantly disturbed by our society commodifying us based on our value. Stores and advertisements made me feel that people, like items, can go out of fashion as we age with time and lose our value. So I constantly felt a need to be “up to date” because I feared being discarded and becoming like the old furniture that is thrown away or sold at discount price. When people are viewed as furniture, they are also disposed of when they lose their function and are left to die. My need to be accepted, to be “current” and to be valuable stemmed from a lack of love and affirmation in my childhood. The haunting of those past childhood memories is connected to the plaguing world’s demands of fame and fortune which promise fulfillment but instead bring hollowness. There is an obsession with money, trends and instant gratification that is ingrained in us from a young age. The lust for power and wealth is also communicated as we use our looks, charm and monetary circumstance to win approval from society and validate our importance in the world. These things have become like drugs to our culture, whether the drug is beauty, possessions, alcohol, sex or a pair of jeans, the desire to enhance a person’s exterior appearance or value is always present. I use consumerism to fill my needs at the expense of my own peace and joy. In our “dog eat dog” society where the richest and the most resourceful thrive while everyone else suffers, I can’t keep up. But I am terrified to be left behind. I am scared to miss out on life and lose time to deem myself as valuable to others.
There is an immense fear and hatred of ugliness, dirt, and filth in the world. Anything that is meant to bring shame or expose the grotesqueness of who we are is hidden with facials, tans, jeans and acts of “charity.” People have become advertisements for themselves, by their clothing, age and looks, as they portray a certain person with particular features that they want others to admire. This person that we become is usually a person that is closed to life and its spontaneity, we are at the peak of our life but I cannot be fulfilled. I want another chocolate bar. I want another pair of shoes. My desires are never satisfied. I didn’t know wonder and joy for a long time because I constantly tried to strive and never took time to really relish life or live in the moment. I always wanted more. I wanted to be thinner, prettier, and smarter. I wanted to be worthy of love.
As a society, we want to prolong our life but not actually live it, we want to age slower and have fewer wrinkles but we don’t relish the wisdom we acquire with experience or exercise our laugh lines. We do not know how to love authentically. Self-preservation is the only way we know how to love ourselves. By seeing the world as a realm of safety hazards, I was choosing to practice my life and not experience it. But I only finally felt a sense of freedom and peace when I embraced change. All this time, I was afraid to be rejected by life, so I rejected life first.
I would use apathy to avoid pain or guilt of my mistakes and I became jealous of those who were better than me. I would fixate on body imperfections such as acne and weight. Our culture is so focused on pore size, height, grey hair, calories and sickness that we equate our value based on our ability to “master” death. In order to be at the optimal peak in our life, we deceive ourselves into thinking we must be the perfect weight and have the best looks just like the celebrities we see on TV and read about in magazines. We do not realize the graveness behind this pursuit of perfection because when a generation is unhappy with our appearance and is trying to alter it, our loss of identity and self-worth is irreparable. We feed our insecurity by trying to constantly strive for perfection. We become resentful of those who look better, have more and seem to have a perfect life on Facebook and Instagram but we only see their highlight reel. We don’t see their tears, flaws, their hardship and their reality. It is hidden away with filters, angles and selfies. Sometimes we fall into comparing our mundane moments with other people’s lives but that “life” has been altered so you only see what the person wants you to see. When we claim that acne, a low-income job and weight are impediments to society, we are inadvertently becoming overly external and self-absorbed to a degree where nothing will satisfy.
Continued in our next post: Am I Perfect Yet (pt. 2)