Striving for perfection

We live in a society with double moral standards. On one hand, we think that looks don’t matter. The importance of being yourself no matter what can’t seem to be too exaggerated, and loving that person even more so. We should be happy for what we got, and not envy what others have. Many claim that success is just an illusion, and successful people are all fake. Others call those people jealous. Others again tell everyone to shut up and realize that we are perfect the way we are.

Still, perfect people seem to be everywhere. Not just in the magazines; it feels like we are surrounded by people who are smarter, hotter, richer, funnier, better than we. People who seem to succeed in everything without any effort.

This is not unique to our society. All through the ages, humans have strived to reach their ideals. Whether it’s a powerful position, a certain figure or good education – every society has a picture of the perfect person. Showing off your good sides and hiding the bad ones is simply human – just look at any portrait from the 17th century. What really changes is what we consider admirable, and how we show it off. It makes people go through crazy things; poisonous makeup and crinolines were popular during the medieval times, causing early deaths and general uncomfort. Today, unhealthy ideals cause anorexia and depression. Billions are spent on plastic surgery and useless cosmetics, with varying results. Don’t even get me started on religious plagues. We also have new and efficient ways of faking it, with photoshop and social media.

We often forget what we don’t see. That football star doesn’t have much of an education. That supermodel isn’t the perfect mom. That billionaire is grey and wrinkled. Neither can we see what it took to get them there either; no pain without gain, it takes work to reach one’s goals. Supermodels have to sacrifice a lot of cake and couch-sitting to look like that. In order to get what one wants, one has to sacrifice something else.

Things get tricky  though. Some people really do succeed with very little effort. They might inherit money, actually like irregular verbs, or just get lucky. Genetics give us all different potential – unfair, but true. I know a lot of people who study like crazy, and still don’t get the grades they want. I know people who don’t study as much, and get good grades anyway. Those people don’t have the same abilities, but they all have to do something to get an A. It’s like an equation – one pleasure for another. Sometimes it’s just better to sit back and relax.

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