Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Je Ne Sais Quoi: not Finished, but Enough

I’m a big fan of the glossies, as most of you already know. Somedays, when I just want to relax, I’ll head to the local bookstore to drink a hot tea and flip through the tabloids and fashion magazines at my leisure. I’m rather ashamed to admit that I take voyeuristic peeks into the lives of celebrities--and I like it. And I scour the fashion pages even though I know they’re exacerbating my urge to consume in excess. And I read the fitness sections as if they’re somehow going to motivate me to actually leave the bookstore and go for a jog (they never do...). I even like the silly quizzes, though I don’t mark them up in the store (because that’s just rude).
But one thing I’ve recently been noticing about all of these glossies is that they’re always trying to get me to improve myself. Whether it’s the 5 simple steps I can take to eat healthier, or the 10 secrets to making me a dynamo in bed, the underlying message is You Can Do Better.

Now, the truth is that I could do better. And I have to admit that part of me appreciates the encouragement and motivation. But once the gloss wears off, it just starts to feel like A.Lot.Of.Work.

And so I wonder--do the women who possess the elusive je ne sais quoi have some kind of secret self-improvement regimen that the rest of us don’t know about? Or are they maybe just more successful at implementing all of these earnest suggestions and check lists that line the pages of women’s magazines?

Somehow I doubt it--on both accounts. My suspicion is that actually the women with je ne sais quoi have mastered something else entirely--rest. They aren’t striving for perfection, but instead are resting right where they are. And this is why we are attracted to them.

I’m learning that there is a great chasm between a spirit at rest and one that is striving. The latter is driven to always improve, always grow, always advance, while the former says "I could improve, but I’ve done enough for now."

...Yes, I could fold the laundry while talking on the phone...but this conversation is enough.
...And Yes I could wake up twenty minutes earlier and squeeze in a workout, but my weekend walk is enough.
...And Yes I could be better in bed, and better at correspondence, and better at cooking, but Damn It! I Am Enough, just as I am.

Not perfect, not finished, but Enough.

Imagine what that would feel like. No wonder there’s just something about a lady like that.

What do you think? Have we gone too far with the self-improvement, or do you find it genuinely helpful? Share your thoughts below!


  1. I think we've definitely gone too far. The constant articles, news stories, blogposts, etc. about how to be a better person make us think we are not acceptable as is. And for me, that feeling of comparing where I am to where I could be carries over into things that aren't even intended to make me think of self improvement {like seeing a mom enjoying time with her children at the park and getting angry with myself for not taking my kids to the park more instead of looking at all the quality time I spend with them or just smiling at the sight of a family having fun}.

    The issue might just be a personal one, but I think I spend far too much time thinking about how I could improve and far too little time loving who I naturally am. When you are jogging to look better {instead of jogging because it feels good} or wearing that skirt because someone famous did {instead of because it makes you feel confident} - - you aren't enjoying your life...and more and more often, I find myself thinking that time is ticking by and I shouldn't be wasting it worrying about if I'm "good enough".

    There's my long, rambling opinion. ;)

  2. Part of me feels like self-improvement can be a bit of an obsession. There's something so appealing about those to-do lists and easy-to-try steps. Like the more you try them, the more you need them, etc.

    And I do like what you said about time ticking by... It makes me wonder what I'll think about all of these earnest efforts at betterment when I'm in my sunset years...

  3. From the lips of a 90 year old woman I visited with today "the same things just don't seem to matter anymore. It's just not important." She was content with simple.


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