Am I Perfect Yet? (Pt 2)
We are so preoccupied with the body’s preservation and decay. Our livelihood depends on prolonging and enhancing the lives within our bodies. The emphasis of the body is significant as we crave to be accepted and we alter ourselves to fit this role. The focus on the body is also related to the fear of bodily change, the fear of aging and the fear of growing up. The desire for approval and the quest to conquer time by staying young and beautiful for as long as possible is what drives us as a society. Most of us wish to prolong our lives in order to have the gift of time as we try to prove ourselves against the forces of capitalism and consumerism. The importance of appearance is linked to the importance of maintaining one’s purpose and function in society. The fear of decay, aging and corruption is linked to the fear of deteriorating and death. We dabble with insecurity and loss of identity by paralleling beauty and humans with value and function. I desired a life of indulgence and luxuries but it was only when I looked into myself that I felt remorse for living in comfort and lavishness at the expense of the impoverished and homeless. It is eye opening to see others’ flaws and impediments. As the search for perfection continues, I started to feel guilt for not appreciating people’s time and talents. I was trying to fix my life and when I did fail, I instantly felt a loss of faith in life and a rejection of life’s value. I became cold and only sought my own happiness and fulfillment because it is too difficult and painful to love others. I avoided the truth of my shallow life by avoiding love and only loving myself to evade any opportunities of pain.
I wanted to start over. I was aware of the world’s branding and I wished to be kind to alleviate my guilty conscience for succumbing to the labelling and entertaining other people’s value. I did not want to sell out and become apathetic, but I didn’t want to lose my small shred of goodness and peace. At first, my actions were falsely altruistic to avoid the guilt of overindulgence. As I cringed at the poor and suffering, I unconsciously looked down upon their life choices and judged my life in comparison to theirs. I could not bear to witness suffering. I could not really see how I was also part of the problem and the growing divide between the rich and poor. I lied to myself to feel better about my choices. By keeping busy, I could avoid the real issues that faced me: my unhappiness with my body, my need to people- please and my fear of losing value in other people’s eyes.
By using possessions to impress others, I realized I was dictating my value based on what I own and this represented my level of happiness and how I had “made it”. I became a mindless and replaceable robot that lived within a fleeting, monotonous cycle where nothing was permanent. Love and goodness became temporary because it was only sought after when there was promise of physical gain. The frustration of being truly good, the plaguing reality of consumerism and modernity, and the overwhelming desire to belong and be loved are all tangible, real issues. The branding of the body and the physical desires we have connects us to our humanity and our imperfection. We need to allow vulnerability and brokenness to become the new definition of “beautiful”. We need to feel secure enough to break down and be honest about our pain.
But I wasn’t happy, my heart became impenetrable to weakness. Finally my sister found me in my pain and helped take care of me. She taught me that bearing all pain as I exposed my bodily weakness did not extract my vitality and purpose. I learned to give myself to life and then I was finally embraced by life for the first time. I became more than my body. I became something more valuable. I became a person with dignity and a capacity for love. I was no longer just a consumer or a tool to be used or product to be sold. I was no longer defined by my function, or society’s standard of beauty and perfection. I was FINALLY set free.