Perceived Perfection Is Dangerous So Let’s Stop Pretending, Shall We?
As I was boarding my plane to Detroit to present a keynote address to an organization, I glanced down at my nails- “I should have painted them red,” I thought. Instead, they were au natural. I realized that the beautiful “night sky” diamond my husband bought me looked rather unglamorous in comparison to how it could have looked paired with a set of blood red nails.
While a nice thought, it dawned on me that I rarely ever painted them. So while the idea was nice, if only for a moment, it wasn’t going to happen. Then the reality hit me- it’s not that I can’t or won’t do my nails, it’s sort of my way of rebuking perfection. As a professional speaker who has traveled all over the world, I’ve learned how to create that “Polished” look. I once saw a mentor of mine who said, “Traci- you’re just like a lump of coal! You’ve polished up into a beautiful diamond!” It was one of the nicest things anyone ever said to me.
Yet I wasn’t always this refined. When I first began speaking my hair was a bit unruly, it was an unsavory red, my makeup was hit or miss and my clothes, although fashionable, were sort of off the rack boring. Today, my hair is raven black with lots of shine, my makeup nearly perfect and my clothes sophisticated, fun and a bit edgy. The one remaining remnant of my pre-groomed days is my nails!
As I walked toward the jet way, gazing down to my hands, I owned up to my personal truth. Unkempt nails are my way of keeping it real. My nails are a subliminal reminder that perceived perfection is dangerous.
Having owned a business and been speaking professionally for close to two decades, I’ve met thousands upon thousands of women and seen much of the world. While I’m proud of my accomplishments, it’s important that I never forget where I came from, and it’s not Harvard. More importantly, the women in my audience must realize that I too am human and have flaws, just like them.
I can step on stage, wow an audience and look the “part.” Yet in those meet and greets, when I’m shaking hands, I like that they see the real me- the woman who is struggling, just like them to balance it all: career, husband, kids and home. Although a minor detail, it’s something women notice because we are so in tune to our looks. I want them to think, “Wow, her nails aren’t done. “ There is something human and raw in this small gesture and tradition of keeping my nails real. In a celebrity obsessed world where women are airbrushed to perfection and people pretend to have it all, I want to demonstrate something more true; that no one is perfect.
Looking down at my nails as I type, I’m reminded of a beautiful Jewish tradition in which families leave a portion of their home, although very small, unfinished. Whether it’s an area left unpainted, with raw exposed wood or a light switch left uncovered, it’s a reminder of their Jewish history. These sad, unsightly nails are sort of the same for me. I may be older, wiser and in the midst of my life’s dream, but I must never forget my past, how I got here or the importance of helping others. Don’t be afraid of showing your flaws. What you find unsightly, others just might find to be beautiful!
To download the first chapter of Traci’s book, visit http://gygb.com/the-book/