Barbie and the Impossible Dream
Is the impossible dream of female (and male) perfection part of human nature? Do we have the ability to step away from expectations and just “be ourselves?” Or is stepping away just another reflection of the impossibility of achieving the human ideal?
Our individual human nature(s) predispose us to certain behaviors and activities. These predispositions create inclinations, little voices inside of us that say “that looks interesting” or “this activity feels really right for me”. This situation is complicated by the fact that we may not choose to listen to those inclinations but rather create situations and habits that counteract our “natural” inclinations. The combination of our native inclinations and our created habits and situations makes us who we are, our authentic selves. This dynamic is complicated by social pressures from outside of us, pressures to conform to social norms and/or to achieve high (maybe impossible) standards. Social pressures also exert forces that push against our natural and self imposed nature. The power of these forces can cause us to divert from our own nature and conform to what is expected creating an internal conflict that can result in stress and health problems. However, due to the existence of a wide variety of social communities it is possible for an individual to find a group that reinforces their natural inclinations and self imposed standards thus supporting an authentic life for that individual. I wouldn’t say that it is easy especially since we have so many influences impacting on us every day.
One other idea that seems important here is the expectations and standards that we impose authentically on ourselves. The idea of “just being ourselves” includes our predisposition for judging our outcomes. We may feel fine with what ever result comes out of our authentic action or we may always feel that it comes up short. I think that is a part of us too.
Ultimately, it is probably impossible to fully separate the influences from outside of us and step away from all expectations, but being part of a community of people that are open and supportive can help a great deal.