Who needs perfect, if there is happy?
Ever since I landed in California, I’ve been feeling happier than ever before. Which is funny. Actually, I was a bit worried about moving to Los Angeles. Why? Women over here tend to put themselves under enormous pressure – in terms of their appearance, their marital status, their children and their job. California, and especially Los Angeles, is based on the dream of being successful, finding the right partner, creating little geniuses, and maybe even being spotted and made famous. Not that I thought anyone would ever discover me, but this delusion of having a perfect life can be pretty daunting. This is what I thought before moving to California. Life here seems like a soap opera with millions of protagonists and terms like “organic, vegan, healthy” or “fit” are haunting me at every corner, on every billboard and in every shop. Therefore, excessive sun, alcohol, fat or cigarettes are no-goes and you protect yourself with SPF 50+, sip Green Smoothies (ideally based on kale) and do excessive sports. The code word for everything is “amazing”.
Please do not get me wrong. I’m the last one to say you should not look after yourself and live healthy. Those who know me know that I like to work out, that I’m not a big eater, use cosmetics, regularly apply face masks, and have my nails and hair done. For me, this is part of feeling good. Still, please, you need to know your metes and bounds and there should be days to regenerate and just enjoy life. I also like to eat a piece of cake or ice cream and I do it without a bad conscience. On vacation, I usually do not train at all, because I am consistent and ambitious the whole year. Here, in California, on the other hand, exercising, starvation and asceticism has become a form of art and I have never seen such tiny bodies full of defined muscles. And so many unhappy faces.
Like in the gym this morning. As I climb thousands of steps on the Step Master (okay, only 950 today) I spot a lady of uncertain age next to me who also climbs the machine. Her body is a size 2 or so and from the back she could be 16. On the other hand, her face resembles a battlefield, a serial surgical assassination, which would have motivated me to sue the offender for the worst. What is worse, however, is her facial expression, which unfortunately I can only describe as “bitter”. She reminds me of so many other women I’ve met here. I find it sad that they spend so many hundreds of hours a year optimizing themselves, torturing themselves on the beach and on treadmills or in Pilates classes, and changing their appearance beyond recognition. They think that with every melting fat depot, every new nose and every extra cup size (I do not want to talk about lip volume because I do not have words for what I see over here) they can also decrease their problems. They hope to finally meet Prince Charming and to move with him into the million-dollar mansion for which they were born for. Of course, my comrade-in-arms does not smile when our eyes meet, because I probably symbolize tough competition on the way to the next marital bliss.
Unfortunately, it is getting harder, because also the men of our dreams have become increasingly demanding, especially those who we crave. For we do not only want handsome, well-off princes but also attentive, sensitive men who are not underrated by our strong character and who read every wish from our eyes and who, of course, do not cheat on us. Yet, these specimen also require more than just good looks, but a woman they can talk to and laugh with, one who is friendly, balanced, self-confident and a partner in crime. This is a big challenge, as you cannot buy these qualities anywhere and there is no personal trainer for that. I always find it sad when I meet women who forget that they also have something like a soul, and that it is this very soul that so positively overshadows what we consider not to be perfect. And what is perfection anyway?
I think that many women here are unhappy because they dislike themselves and chase an impossible ideal. Still, how should anybody else like you, when you do not even like yourself? I look around and realize that I’m actually very different from a lot of women here. I am real. I am happy. I appreciate things that differentiate me from others. Namely, the little things that are not a“standard equipment” (or from any surgeon’s portfolio folder). Because they define me and it is their unique combination that makes me irreplaceable. Is that not something wonderful that we should celebrate? In LA, I learn to throw the perfectionism that I have certainly often striven for, overboard and to just embrace life. The truth is that over here, it does not make sense to strive to be the most beautiful, richest or most likable person, because there are always enough others to beat you in every category in length. I would rather spend hours thinking about what I could do with my life, where I would like to travel, which books I still want to read and which people I would like to get to know, rather than thinking about a nose job. This is not what life is about. A new body part would not make me happier, better or more desirable. Because it does not change my soul. On the contrary. The worst thing there is, is to fall for a package that does not promise what it claims. You build up an expectation that cannot be fulfilled. And if you see a luxury packaging, it is assumed that the content has first-class value, too.
Now many singles will say: She’s got it easy, she has a husband. That’s true. And already for a very long time. Why? I will try to explain: I try to make the most of what I was given by nature, yet stick to what actually defines me. I’m not a supermodel and not an easy character, but maybe this is what my husband appreciates. Every day with me is a surprise, because I do not stop contemplating and developing, but I continue growing and trying things out. I hope that at some point I will arrive at my intended destination (I still do not have a clue where or what that will be) and I really hope that he is still at my side then, despite off some wrinkles and cup size B.
As a reward for all the sweating, I allow myself a few hours on the beach, which fortunately is only a few minutes away from me. I will enjoy the sound of the Pacific Ocean and embark on a mental journey into the unknown. I know that the sun will bring me a few more lines, but to be honest: I love each one of them. They are like a map of my life and remind me of all the beautiful holidays, summers, and moments. They tell a lot about the adventures that I have already experienced. My body is a picture book of my life and it is legitimate that not everyone likes all the pictures. The one who wants to take a closer look, has to take the whole book in her/his hand and run the risk to find things that she/he did not expect. Hence, I appreciate adventurous, unprejudiced people without fear of contact. They have become my best friends and I hope that there will be more to come along the rest of my way.