Today’s question: Do you feel pressure to be perfect? How much of it is tied to what you see online?
Again with the ambiguous questions. Are we talking about physical perfection, perfect hairstyle, perfect skills, perfect employee, mother, pet guardian, or blogger?
There was a time when I wanted to be a winner, the best equestrian/fencer among my friends, get the great job, achieve a university degree and have a perfectly trained pet. I also wanted to be thin, elegant and perfectly turned out. To achieve the sport targets, I cycled everywhere, went to the gym twice a week, practised fencing three times per week, swam at least once per week, and rode twice per week. Two nights per week I attended lectures. My dog was drilled every day in heel work, fetch, sit, stay, etc. Sometimes he came to my fencing club and acted as a referee – he was very good at deciding who should get the point. I sat up all night writing essays, slaved all day in the office, and bounced from activity to activity without a breath in between. All the time maintaining a nice hairdo, makeup every day and a separate wardrobe for each aspect of my busy life. Somehow, I never had enough energy to clamber up the career ladder as well. Some things never change, I still don’t make the wisest life decisions, choosing what pleases me over what might bring a financial gain.
As time went by the dog got older and really wasn’t interested in being a superdog – and I had the sense to follow the proverbial advice to “let sleeping dogs lie”. Instead of doing drills every day, he preferred to spend time on the couch with his head on my lap, and I enjoyed that too. I purchased a car to get me from activity to activity, and then realised that the maintenance and running costs considerably reduced my ability to pay the fees to engage in all those activities. There was a gradual slippage in the horse-riding sessions (the most expensive activity). Then my mum became ill and I was her primary carer, so the fencing and the university course were put on hold “until she was better”. Well, old people do some things reliably – they get older, they begin to fail, and then they die. This process can take a long time. The search for perfection lost its importance.
In the early, pre-Google days of wobbly dial up connections, the intrepid browser would be far more focused than we are today. It was go to the desk, fire up the PC, login, listen to the almost satisfying squeal from the modem as it gradually made contact with the intraweb (nb: when did that name come into use?) get the information you wanted and get offline quickly, before the rest of the household raised Cain because [a] the phone bill was rapidly clocking up [b] nobody else could use the phone. In those days, if I came across a site with too many images or advertisements, I would reject it because of the loading time – not just because of [a] and [b] but also because I had too many other things to do.
These days you just have to pick up your smart phone and you are in – Zero to Overkill – indiscriminate information overload in seconds. Thankfully, I’m older now, I’ve done my time striving to be the best at this, an expert in that. If I’d had the same access way back when I was all gung-ho and action, I would probably have imploded. My interest now lies with the wellbeing of the animals in my care, cultivating my ever-growing indoor jungle, getting through the reading list that was originally suggested by the long-ago degree course and has grown exponentially since then, making my pictures, and this current obsession with blogging, some of which I wrote about in Pressure: Who is responsible. So when I go online, it’s generally to refer to the Great Oracle (Google) for bits and pieces of information on these topics, or to check in on how friends I don’t get to see very often are doing. I’m wise enough now to be selective about what I take from consulting the Great Oracle. Each of the dogs came to me as adults, from different rescue situations, so they are not perfectly behaved, and I don’t mind, because they are happy and healthy and that’s the main thing. The cats are behaving, as far as I can tell with my limited experience, like normal cats – I’m having fund observing them and learning how to understand them. I’ve realised that plants will grow well for me regardless of how assiduously (or not) I care for them. The process of making pictures is far more satisfying than looking at them when they are done (although when they come out well, it does feel good). I’m about two stone heavier, and on days off, when I’m digging into what I like to do, my hair looks like a haystack, and I don’t care.
So, in answer to the question, no I don’t feel the pressure to be perfect any more, and ever since broadband became available, I’m very grateful that I don’t.
Under Pressure – Queen – NaBloPoMo January 2014