Santa & Perfection

Tram in Juneau photo by Mary Dessein

What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and perfection have in common? They don’t exist.
There are a zillion articles on how to deal with the question from your child when they come to you asking if Santa is real or how does the Easter Bunny lay eggs. There are also a myriad of opinions about it and the circumstances of the child doing the asking.

I’ll just tell you the truth flat out: perfection doesn’t exist.

Perfection is taught, inculcated, and presented as the best option, as the only viable goal, as the normal expectation, and yet it doesn’t exist.
Perhaps it can be meant to encourage people to do their best. Okay. However, there is usually a significant downside when ‘perfect’ is not achieved: getting written up at work, shamed by co-workers and/or boss, made fun of in school, as well as taking a hit to one’s self-esteem and self-worth. Conversely, those people doing the shaming and making fun are often just blinkin’ glad it is not them being called out, so they pile in with the nay-sayers in order that their lack of perfection is not identified. Dang, that is an out-of-balance system.

I used to be in the camp of ‘Perfection,’ believing it is a good thing, we need to work toward it, and shaming people is a way to motivate them. With dismay, I admit I have at times been in the group of people who pointed at others to avoid the spotlight being focused on me. In retrospect, it was my youth, my mistaken belief that others’ opinions mattered, inexperience with detecting groupthink, and fear.

Groupthink is a phenomenon when a group’s desire for harmony or conformity results in irrational, dysfunctional, and/or faulty decisions. My, oh my. I did participate in that, even though it didn’t feel right, I was unable to stand up and say, “Nope.”

One afternoon, Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, an honest lawyer, and a college student were walking down the street, they all saw the $100 bill at the same time. Who got it? The college student, of course, as the other three don’t exist.

We could each make a list of non-existents, however, groupthink does exist.
A driving component of groupthink is fear. It has a double edge with perfection: if I’m not perfect, then I’m not good enough. Oh la la, if I’m fearful that makes me controllable. There’s that busybody again: fear.

Tyrants, dictators, politicians, bullies, cops, teachers, CEO’s, supervisors, and parents, nearly everyone, have used fear to control. A light-bulb for me, a profound one as it so surprised me, was when I realized how a former boss controlled me with fear. When I saw that, it allowed me to see how her boss did the same thing.

The day the boss’s boss showed up to castigate me for an email that allegedly challenged her authority, I showed no fear as I wasn’t afraid, and when her intimidation and shaming strategy didn’t work, she left my office in a huff. I was calm, I answered questions evenly, I produced a copy of the offending email. Bonus round: I recognized that whatever was going on with her, was not about me. It was not until later in my mental replay, that I saw – without fear, I could be myself and not kowtow to their misuse of authority; and not be put in a defensive, subordinate position.

When the lawyer was waking up from surgery, he asked why the blinds were all pulled. The nurse answered, “There’s a fire across the street and we didn’t want you to think you’d died.”

Fear; fantasies that don’t exist yet serve a purpose for someone.

I’ll just tell you the truth flat out: you don’t have to participate in something that doesn’t exist. Your call.