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Perfection

During the pandemic our baking and cooking skills have been refined and polished, usually we choose recipes that seem within reach, not too complicated and less than a dozen ingredients is usually what we are looking for. Failure is not something we aim for in life, nor in the kitchen. When we printed a recipe for a lemon tart the other day, it seemed doable. So we set out to make a homemade crust and lemon curd, not a problem, or so we thought. Everything was going well, the ingredients were bought and laid out, we juiced and zested 6 lemons, we brought it to a simmer, the egg and sugar mixture were mixed, butter was added. We were feeling confident. That is when one of the kids decided to let us know that on the Great British Baking Show, lemon curd is something that fails quite a bit.

Our confidence was suddenly shot, we started rereading the recipe, googling the exact time for perfectly set lemon curd, we measured exactly, we stirred for what seemed like days and well, the curd set. The tart came out spectacularly, who knows what a cooking judge might have ranked it, but it looked and tasted amazing. We had set up to achieve perfection, failure wasn’t even on our radar, but with just a few words of caution from a child, we were filled with anxiety and planned to fail.

I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business. -Michael J. Fox

Writing this story out makes it seem funny and it is, but on the other hand it is an example of how much we tear ourselves down with doubt and anxiety over even things like baking. We set ourselves up for failure because we expect perfection in all areas of our lives. We want to excel at working out, our jobs, our relationships, our health and mental health, how we parent, and even how we look. If you are thinking that we are pushing this analogy too far, think about it for a second. We don’t follow IG, Snapchat or Tic Tok accounts for images and videos featuring imperfection, no, we follow them for the perfectly edited and curated perfection we crave in our own lives.

It’s not about being perfect. It’s not about where you get yourself in the end. There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there’s grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.
-Michelle Obama, Becoming

We teach our children to “just do their best,” but deep down we equate best with perfect. So today, let's tear up the idea that perfection is even on the table. It is just exhausting trying to be perfect all the time. If the Great British Baking Show isn’t going to come marching into the kitchen, who cares if your best isn’t up to their standards? It is still probably going to taste delicious and that is what we should be aiming for anyway!

That project for work you are pulling your hair out over. Stop and think, did you do your best and if the answer is yes, do one more grammar check and send it in. Same for that report for school, same for expectations we set for ourselves in our life, wear the dress, put on the lipstick, dance like no one is watching, wear what you like, be who you are meant to be, don’t put off living your authentic self because you are scared that it makes you imperfect. Revel in being perfectly imperfect.

There are two kinds of perfect: The one you can never achieve, and the other, by just being yourself. -Lauren King

Set a goal, be your best, not THE BEST, but a passable good. Life isn’t a carefully curated, ring light infused picture with your tummy pulled in tight and your hip at an angle not meant for the human body to withstand. Life is bad days, therapy, needing support, slouching, eating the delicious nachos, baking without worrying about the outcome, it is cellulite and spider veins.

Life is messy, it isn’t perfect, but with any luck you will have many years to work on making choices that you can be proud of.

I’m not perfect. And I don’t have to be. I can figure it out as I go, and as long as I do the best I can, it’s okay if I still screw up. -Melissa Darnell

Wishing you all nothing but the very best.
-SG

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