perfection shattered

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Many writers refer to childhood as an innocent time. For me, it was a time of perfection – I felt undamageable and a perfect being who could whatever she wanted.

My thoughts go in this direction today because I just saw a little girl, perhaps 7 years old, fall down onto her bare knees while walking with her mom on a flat sidewalk. Her cries made my heart ache for her and her loss of being that perfect, unscathed seven-year-old with no scars.

I’ve struggled for a long time with perfectionism in the aftermath of losing my perfection. Which may have happened once when I was playing in the woods on a small Maine island and my legs got covered in scratches. According to a story my father loved to tell me, I looked down at my legs, started crying and said “now I’m not perfect anymore.”

It might have been lost when I was three and my parents went thru a dramatic split that had me shuttled all over the place, stolen back and forth from each other. That was when I was a three year old who didn’t open [the weekly] presents [that came in the mail] anymore, according to my short term foster mother slash aunt.

Or perhaps it occurred that time I said “Hey guys, watch this!” to my aunts, uncles and grandparents as I attempted to do a perfect pirouette on double bladed ice skates the very first time I ever went ice skating. I pretty much got their attention to watch me fall on my butt and pout at them as they laughed at me. When I think back to that one, I laugh too and remember being confused as to why I wasn’t able to do what I saw those fancy skaters do on TV.

The little girl I saw today probably has skinned knees and a shattered ego. But soon she’ll have the joy of picking at her first scab, knowing she shouldn’t but be unable to stop testing the edges to see if it’s ready to come off. I did that a lot as a child and as an adult, I have a tendency toward picking at my skin – removing the rough edges, red bumps and dark clogged pores – perhaps because I’ve always been an esthetician* and perhaps because I’m trying to get rid of that which makes me less “perfect”.

My work involves helping people improve their skin – to help them get away from that which makes them consider themselves not perfect. This has given my personal perfectionism the ideal venue – I put my acute detail oriented-ness to great use helping them figure out the details of their skin care routine. By the time I look in the mirror at myself, I’m relatively satisfied with what I find, especially if I’ve made someone smile that day.

Make someone smile every day, okay?

*I discovered that I’m an esthetician, I didn’t choose it.

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