The tragic death of Eloise Parry (read http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-shropshire-32391903) after an accidental overdose of diet pills is a painful metaphor for our desire to be perfect – without even realising it, we can drive ourselves to destruction and waste a life so worth living.
Of course we all self-criticise at times: constructivism is a hugely important part of growing and changing. However, where should we draw the line? I found myself reading this article just minutes after subjecting myself to mental turmoil for the trivial ‘failure’ of not having achieved the top grade in a recent Spanish essay. Though this may seem completely different to taking diet pills to provoke a physical change, both my reaction to my ‘imperfect’ performance and Eloise’s reaction to her ‘imperfect’ physical appearance are manifestations of perfectionism.
The truth is, this form of self ‘torture’ (for lack of a euphemism) can be devastating. I am beginning to realise that subjecting myself to this is nothing other than detrimental. Instead, I am trying to learn self-acceptance because, as the wonderfully insightful George Orwell pointed out, “the essence of being human is that one does not seek out perfection” – too right, George.
Hopefully a small goodness can come from the Parry family’s terrible loss – I hope this post provokes your reassessment of the times in your life you felt a sense of crushing failure (you know, that clichéd cloud over the head, lump in the throat, I want to crawl under my duvet feeling). The days will only get brighter if you replace destructive thoughts with constructive ones. Please think of Eloise Parry and her family in their time of need, and continue striving to improve healthily and without self-hatred.