The Quest for Perfection

By Karen Gullo
I remember one year in my early 20’s, I had recently moved out of home and was doing my grocery shopping. I took my time in the fresh food section of the grocery store trying to choose the perfect peach. It was beautiful – no blemishes or marks from insects, and just the right softness and size, however, when I bit into it, it was all wrong. It was not the delicious, juicy piece of fruit that I had hoped for. It had no flavour and the texture was not right.

My father is a farmer, and so when I next saw him I asked him how such a perfect-looking piece of fruit on the outside could so miss the mark on the inside. He explained that, as well as being sprayed with who-knows-how-many artificial fertilisers and pesticides to get it to market looking perfect, the fruit had probably been chilled, close to freezing. That means it lasts longer and can meet the year-round demand from consumers for seasonal fruit.

That day I was reminded of one of life’s truths - “What something looks like on the outside isn’t necessarily a reflection of what is on the inside.”

“What something looks like on the outside isn’t necessarily a reflection of what is on the inside.”

The same principle applies in life.

We look at someone who appears to have the shiny, perfect life – ‘The Joneses’. They might have a newer car than us, a nicer home (in the right neighbourhood), new clothes every week (let alone every season), they might go on extravagant holidays, send their children to the best school and from all externally points of view look the picture of perfection.

We assume that because everything looks so perfect on the outside it reflects the inside. We assume that they must be happy, content and financially secure. However, for many this is not the case.

The reality is that so many of the shiny lifestyles we see around us aren’t what we think they are. Many are built on shaky foundations, consumer debt and living beyond our wage (shopping at David Jones when maybe all we can afford is Kmart).

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that there is something wrong with wanting nice things and that everyone who has a ‘shinny’ life is faking it – some people really do have amazing, blessed lives, but trust me, they worked hard to get them and continue to work hard to keep them. I am reminded of a quote by Jay-Z “If you cant buy two of them – you cant afford it.”

Money and things are amoral – neither good nor bad and the pursuit of nice things is normal and understandable. The problem comes when we pursue it at all cost, when we can’t afford it, causing harm to ourselves and our relationships in the process, or we pursue it to fill a space in our life.

So what is it that drives us to seek this perfect life, or at least the appearance of perfection? Why do we want what “she’s having”? Why are we so often prepared to do whatever it takes to ‘supersize’ or upgrade our lives and possessions, without thinking about what this “microwave-money”, instant gratification culture is doing to our soul and to our future?

Comparison is the single biggest stealer of joy and our contentment in who we are and what we have.

I truly believe comparison is the single biggest stealer of joy and our contentment in who we are and what we have. The reverse of this though, is that when we pursue the things we are passionate about or do what makes ‘our soul sing’ (corny I know), we experience real inner contentment. It’s about forgetting about appearances, pursuing contentment and happiness, and realising we will get there when it’s our time and its okay for us to not be there yet.

If this speaks to you, can I encourage you that the first step is realising what is driving your behaviour and owning it. Go talk to someone you trust, who has mastered this area in their life and who can be an encouragement and strength for you in this area. Take the first step and bring this issue to the light!

You are never without hope or help!