America has a produce problem.
We throw away nearly half of all produce grown in the United States because of what farmers are calling a “cult of perfection.” Due to unrealistic cosmetic standards we are deepening hunger and poverty and inflicting a heavy toll on the environment.
Apparently we have proven to want “blemish free” produce. Anything with a mark, discolorations, bruise etc. is looked over or tossed away.
Cue long dramatic O.M.G. because. . .
I believe we do this with people too. We don’t just want “blemish free” apples and zucchinis we want ”blemish free” everything!
We search for perfection in ourselves and others constantly.
And the result?
A lot of waste. We are throwing out relationships, vulnerability, connection, job opportunities, and just basic experiences because we either don’t think we are good enough or we don’t think someone or something else is.
I think it is time to stop digging for perfect fruit when it comes to our hearts. We have to stop making flawless the standard because what makes your produce look seamless is actually harmful to the environment. And what makes you or I look perfect does the same to our souls. I am a lover of the environment, I even bought reusable metal straws, but right now I am more concerned about the state of our souls. So, do what you want at the grocery store- but hear me out when it comes to our human interactions:
In a podcast I listened to today, Annie F. Downs talked about how she hates when people say things like, “When you figure it out and are ok you’ll get what you want.” She is talking about the idea that once you are happy with what you have you then will receive what you’ve been waiting for.
Basically, once you have your shit together and you’re good with it- the ball will start rolling into your court.
I agree with Annie, this is not true. This is so not true. You do not gain control or worthiness of your desires by being happy or even looking happy.
Being content just means your content. It doesn’t mean God will give you anything extra. You don’t have to look good to get good.
But this is how the majority of us live- even if we don’t realize it. We keep walking around trying to emulate perfectly ripened fruit without bruises or discoloration. We want things to appear happy and put together. And we do this to other people just as often as we do this to ourselves. We want people to fit our mold, our convuluted idea of worthiness we created out of stories and unreachable standards. We swipe through pictures of people accepting those who meet criteria for perfection and rejecting those who might look like they’ve made mistakes in their life; be it their haircut or lack of successful career. We actually often throw out our own career opportunities because the job description doesn’t read exactly what we think we deserve. But as cheesy and cliché as it may sound- that is what makes life so sweet. The mess ups, the quirks, the ability to say, “hey I’m chaotic and sometimes I’m angry & sad but that doesn’t mean I don’t deserve happiness too.” The unexpected is what keeps blood flowing in our bodies.
Annie also said in this podcast, “I really hate feeling rejected because I am doing the best I can.”
I think we all are doing the best we can. I wish more of us took on an attitude like this. I mean, what if instead of constantly judging people for not meeting our expectations we chose to offer grace, mercy, and a little compassion. Just because someone isn’t operating how we want them to it doesn’t mean they aren’t trying their hardest.
The strongest people I know- are the ones who have imperfections they don’t try to hide with tattoo strength concealer.
Most of your reading this know I am a therapist, and if you didn’t know: Hi, I am a therapist. I talk with people daily about pain and hardship and I push a lot of them to go deeper into that mess. I don’t do this because I like seeing people hurting I do it because,
the closer we get to pain and hurt the more we see strength- not weakness.
It really is true, when we are weak, we are strong.
These legs of mine, they’ve picked me up about 1000 times. I’ve been rejected in about every way possible. I have lived in spaces where I haven’t felt wanted, good enough or valued. In the past 5 years I think I applied for about 30 jobs. I think I got maybe three interviews. I cannot tell you the amount of men that I have wanted to choose me that haven’t, and three months ago I stopped fitting into my “skinny jeans.”
Despite all of this- I still choose myself daily. With the bruises and discoloration. I don’t treat myself like a tomato- I’m not fragile- I can be dropped because I know how to get back up. I would never know how strong I am if I had never been knocked over. I choose to find gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had to climb really tough mountains. The only way we learn how to get up is by getting up. And the bruises we get from the falls, well you can call them imperfections if you want, you can call them battle scars too. . . I just call them a part of me.
If I only accepted the parts of me that are seamless I would be missing out on the parts that really set me apart. The parts that allow me to shine. The same goes for how I treat other people and how I treat opportunities that life presents to me. If I keep waiting to find a perfectly round shiny apple I am giving myself two options:
- Continue to wait my entire life.
- Settle for a counterfeit version of what I think I need.
Where do you find yourself sorting through things in your life looking for clear cut answers or clear cut people? Your life isn’t a supermarket- so stop treating it like one. I don’t want to say we need to all lower our expectations, but maybe that is what I am saying. Expectations need to be centered in reality and honesty not in a picture of life you saw in a movie when you were 16. If you have unrealistic cosmetic standards of people maybe its time to get real with yourself.
You can keep throwing out, looking over, and picking through produce all day long- but I want to really challenge you to stop doing the same thing with human beings. Bruises don’t make us bad. Mistakes don’t equal unworthiness. And all flaws do is show us we are not robots.
Go buy some bruised fruit today and collectively let’s starve the cult of perfection.