Linda Hart's Reviews > Being Perfect

Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen
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Dec 14, 2010

it was amazing

I loved this little book, really an essay with photographs. It full of wisdom.
"Trying to be perfect may be inevitable for people who are smart and ambitious and interested in the world and its good opinion . . .What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."
"What is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself."
Some quotables:
"Eventually being perfect became like carrying a backpack filled with bricks every single day. And Oh, how I wanted to lay that burden down."

"Perfection is static, even boring. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted."

"...being a good parent is not generational, it is deeply personal, and it all comes down to this: If you can bring to your children the self that you truly are, as opposed to some amalgam of manners and mannerisms, expectations and fears that you have acquired as a carapace along the way, you will be able to teach them by example not to be terrorized by the narrow and parsimonious expectations of the world, a world that often likes to color within the lines when a spray of paint, a scribble of crayon would be much more satisfying." (less)
"In this little gem of a book (more of an essay-plus-photo-book), Anna Quindlen describes, from personal experience, the ways that the burden of the backpack of perfectionism leads to "curvature of the spirit." In brief:

1) She warns that "being perfect" robs a person of her courage to "be yourself" and thereby robs a person of the courage to achieve "the hard work of life in the world, to acknowledge within yourself the introvert, the clown, the artist, the homebody, the goofball, the thinker. Look inside. That way lies dancing to the melodies spun out by your own heart" (page 19).

2) She warns that "being perfect" robs a person of harmony with other people, since "pursuing perfection makes you unforgiving of the faults of others" (page 40).

3) She warns that "being perfect" robs a person of the ability to endure loss and disappointments. Because enduring loss requires a person to summon one's inner resources--the "center of yourself," the "core to sustain you." But if you've spent a lifetime "being perfect" (i.e., bending oneself to meet other people's expectations) then "there will be a black hole where that [personal] core ought to be" (pages 46-47).

Quindlen's book can be read in an hour or two; but it's one of those books that a person will want to re-read every now and again--to reflect and meditate upon whether one is indeed being True to Oneself. (less)"

It comes down to doing your best. Whatever that looks like in any given moment, in any situation. And if you make a mistake, trying to learn from it. Because mistakes are human.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
October 1, 2010 – Finished Reading
December 14, 2010 – Shelved

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