You exhaust yourself trying to be perfect.
You look in the mirror and focus on the flaws: the dimpled flesh on your thighs, the curve of your belly, the lines in your skin.
You stare at yourself for a long time. If you stare for long enough, on the right day, in the perfect light, you might be beautiful.
You punish yourself for skipping a workout, or finishing that piece of cake. You’ll never be perfect like this, not like the girls in the magazines, the ones who taunt you with their slender thighs and taut stomachs.
You worry about the future, about whether your job is right for you. You worry that you should be doing something better, more impressive, earning more money.
You lay awake at night fretting over the tasks you haven’t finished, the looming deadlines or the conversation that didn’t go the way you intended. You fear that you aren’t your best self, that people are judging you.
You wish you could be perfect, like the girls on the internet, on Instagram, the ones sashaying down the street with their stylishly wavy hair and the impractical shoes you could never walk in all day at the office.
You let your shoulders slump when someone pretty walks by. You allow the bad photograph or the poor grade to define you.
You worry about being alone. You worry about being stuck. You worry about being a failure.
You wonder if everyone feels this way. You worry that it’s just you.
You give yourself a hard time, day after day. Your expectations for yourself grow endlessly, as you compare yourself to a picture of someone that doesn’t exist. You don’t understand why your life isn’t like theirs, when you’ve worked so hard, for so long.
And you forget.
You forget that it isn’t just you. You forget to appreciate what you have, what you are, while you’re worrying about what you’re not.
You forget that everyone compares themselves to someone else and comes up short.
While you’re so busy trying to be perfect, to achieve some arbitrary goal, you forget that none of us are perfect really. Perfect doesn’t exist like it does on social media.
But perfect can exist in someone else’s eyes. That person doesn’t care about your cellulite or your frown lines or the project you messed up at work.
That person just wants you to be happy.
They wish you would see yourself the way they do.
You might not be perfect, but you are, to them.