When I was a teenager I made a goal to someday be perfect. I figured it was in my range of ability — I just had to work hard at it.
I began my training in perfection with my mother’s high school yearbooks. In the mid-20th century seniors could list their pet peeves under their graduation photograph. I made a list of several of the pet peeves of the graduating class of 1954 and vowed to note each and every one of those pet peeves and not do things like “wear red and pink” (easy), “Sing [insert pop song from 1953 here]” (piece of cake), “wear too much makeup” (Ok), and “be a woman driver” (huh? maybe I could just be a good woman driver). I don’t have the list nor the yearbook in front of me, so I’m just guessing at these now.
So, list of pet peeves of high school students from the early 1950’s in hand, I was on the road to perfection.
Then I discovered the advice column in Seventeen magazine. It gave advice on how to be popular — and weren’t perfect people popular? I read it religiously and tried out some of the tips. I’ve already written about the tip about wearing a pendant on my back instead of on my chest. That kind of spoiled the advice columns for me.
The next stage in my quest for perfection (and no, I didn’t manage to avoid all pet peeves) was when I discovered self-actualization. My memory of what I thought self-actualization meant and what I’ve found online differ somewhat, but the idea is the same: to reach one’s potential. Since I was certain perfection was a potential for me, I used this to strive for perfection.
I made a list of behaviors and goals in a journal (called not-surprisingly Dona’s Self-actualization journal — now lost or destroyed) and kept notes on my journey.
When I met my husband-to-be he said that self-actualization was not much different from a cult or Scientology (apologies to any Scientologists who may read this). I believed him and gave it up. I’m not sure he was right — but I think I might have been planning on giving it up anyway. Long time ago — so there is little way of knowing.
Anyway — at some point I realized that I was not going to be perfect. Ever. I think this was about the same time I realized I could never be invisible. Or talk to fairies.
That’s ok. I know some people who are [what I considered to be] perfect. And I don’t like them much.
Whew! Close call.