Reflection

On Perfection.

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I sometimes think we’re sorted too soon,” – A.P.W.B.D

 

A Harry Potter fan would understand the context of this statement and who said it, and perhaps only a Harry Potter fan will understand what I write today. At eleven, do we really know who we truly are? Can we even be defined by our youthful thoughts, fears, and beliefs? Even at twenty-one – when I was sorted into Slytherin on Pottermore – it feels too young. Being sorted into the ‘bad’ house was extremely devastating for my self-image: I actually believed myself (for many subsequent years) to be cruel and more manipulative than I actually was.

There is evidence suggesting that our brains don’t fully develop until we’re in our mid-twenties. Retaking the test now (multiple times), I can assure you that I am a true creative, curious and communicative Ravenclaw (and I would call an emotionally-courageous Gryffindor secondly). To back this up, Time Magazine’s sorting (with evidence gathered by specialist scientists) thought I was most strongly a Ravenclaw (at 37%), and only 2% Slytherin!

As one of the first 10,000 in the world to access Pottermore on the historic first day of it’s opening, I stubbornly refuse to delete my original account, of which is brazenly painted in colours of green and silver, a forceful reminder of who I was, and who I’ve been trying to get away from. My life has been a series of changes to improve particular aspects of myself I don’t like. Even if I was a Slytherin at aged twenty-one, I’m definitely not anymore.

Which leads me to a slightly different topic of discussion: The pursuit of Perfection.

Humans are constantly seeking perfection. Not necessarily the perfectionism of beauty and lifestyle as hammered by the media, but from a fear of failure. As a result, we are continuously changing and evolving (or even going backwards) to find it. What does perfection look like? How is it determined, and is it even attainable? If perfection is attained, wouldn’t we simply stagnate and effectively become imperfect again?

Growing up, I was repetitively criticized by my parents for my mistakes and not praised or shown enough love for what I did well. Their human failures as parents resulted in me constantly comparing myself to my brothers, to my peers, to those more talented, pretty or accomplished. I’ve had a lifetime of self-deprecation and agonizing over the smallest of criticisms or mistakes because I failed (in my mind) to be perfect. In many ways, this explains why I was a Slytherin – I was always desperately seeking to be the best; however, I think I have learned to deal with my faults and failures much better since then. Every now and then I do find myself sensitive to criticism, but I’ve come to understand that perfection is by all intents and purposes, difficult to interpret. Although it hasn’t stopped me finding ways in which to improve.

I know we’d all be a lot happier if we had gratitude for what we have, instead of looking at others who are better off than ourselves. There is always someone more intelligent, more beautiful, more wealthy, more kind, or more accomplished than us. Like comparing our lives to a social feed, we’d never be happy. But happiness is the process of life. And so I spend my life in search of better things. Along the way, I discover experiences, connections, laughs, self-expression, understanding and knowledge, all as a way of attempting to live life to the fullest, and as a way of defining and refining my character. This is what drives me. The risk is that I have to struggle with failure and stagnation sometimes.

In any case, while reflecting on perfection, and whether it truly is attainable, I stumbled across this video by the School of Life about Emma Watson (who – let’s all admit – is a Ravenclaw). While I fully support the views of the video, which praises Emma for the way she holds herself up in the public eye, I can’t help but compare myself to her and think – how can I be like her? How can I follow in her example?

I struggle to hold myself up with the same dignity. Being able to relate to others and have a sense of humour without being crass; not being outspoken, but still having a firm opinion; using my power for forces of good; not caring about how others perceive me, but still presenting oneself respectably. If life were a lottery, Emma would have won the jackpots. She, to me, is one of those rare examples of someone who is perfect.

I don’t suggest that this as a bad thing – on the contrary, I admire her for it. She’s presented herself as a role model by behaving exemplary, not looking exemplary. Her looks and fortune are simply luck, and she’s accomplished because of hard work and using her position wisely. Perhaps calling her perfect can be construed negatively. It suggests that she didn’t need to work to get to where she is. It’s like calling someone ‘naturally talented’. It doesn’t take into account the hours of practice, improvement and reflection that goes into being the best, or at least better. I think there’s a lot to Emma we simply don’t see.

In many ways, Emma is seen as Too Perfect. Perhaps rather, being private about her flaws has made her imperfect. Take as a contrast, Lorde (another Ravenclaw if I ever saw one!). In her new album Melodrama, Lorde pours her soul, quite candidly. Her fears, anxieties and troubles with love. Her embracing of her quirks and flaws has made her successful, likable and popular in her own right. People are less intimidated by those who make mistakes and own up to them. It’s part of being human, being real.

Never the less, Emma Watson may be one ideal I strive to measure up to, but it’s important to understand perfection before we beat ourselves over it.

Perhaps a Slytherin would be intent on seeking perfectionism by all means possible.

Perhaps a Gryffindor would see it as a challenge.

Maybe a Hufflepuff would not care about it at all.

But a Ravenclaw? I believe a Ravenclaw would have the understanding to know when to seek perfection, when to accept imperfection, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

In mark of 20 years since Harry Potter’s first publication, I celebrate with this post. All referenced quotes and associated content of the world of Harry Potter belongs to JK Rowling – and to my understanding, Warner Bros. as well. A massive thank you is overdue to JKR for her influence and shaping of who I am between the ages of ten and twenty seven, and who I ever will be. You are, in the sense of this post, another example of a perfect human being.
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Uncategorised

Enough is enough.

I usually avoid spontaneous posts, but recently I have had thoughts in my mind that I’ve been too angry to talk about, and just today I stumbled upon this inspirational (and now somewhat iconic) speech that eloquently covered what I haven’t been able to say. I felt the urgency to share it.

Michelle Obama’s recent speech in New Hampshire managed to convey what I’ve been feeling and thinking about the US Elections of late. But this speech goes beyond politics. It goes into the realm of basic human decency, and is a timeless speech that addresses a major issue that we are still facing every single day. I hope that all people make the time to hear it. Politics aside, this is an issue men and women need to listen to, and acknowledge.

Enjoy your weekends and stay positive!

 

EDIT: On another note .. have you seen Emma Watson’s latest He for She address? Watch below!

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Uncategorised

The World needs this as a Regular Chat Show

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I’m a part of Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. I don’t actively participate, but I got involved when Caitlin Moran’s memoir ‘How to be a Woman‘ was selected for book of the month.

Initially I wasn’t drawn to Moran, I found her a bit too brash. I also didn’t like her views on how women were portrayed in history, which I found surprisingly assumptious for a published writer. She said, and I quote, For even the most ardent feminist historian, male or female – citing Amazons and tribal matriarchies and Cleopatra – can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck all for the last 100,000 years. Come on – let’s admit it. Let’s stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that’s just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn’t. Our empires, armies, cities, artworks, philosophers, philanthropists, inventors, scientists, astronauts, explorers, politicians and icons could all fit, comfortably, into one of the private karaoke booths in SingStar. We have no Mozart; no Einstein; no Galileo; no Gandhi. No Beatles, no Churchill, no Hawking, no Columbus. It just didn’t happen“.

Many people on the OSS forum thought it might have just been her sense of humour, but most of us (quite confused and frustrated) went on to challenge this; making a point that most women weren’t given the opportunity to learn and make a difference, or had male superiors take credit for their work and achievements. But I softened after watching the clip below. This clip comes from an extended interview between Watson and Moran discussing issues raised in her book (these two make good discussion TV). What Moran says does not only support the views I already had, but she also acknowledges that she wasn’t enlightened when she wrote the book five years previously (a feminist who admits faults, how refreshing) and that school had never taught her why women were absent in history. I really encourage you to watch the following clip(s) discussing this.

“You make a point why women didn’t play a role in human history. How did you come to these conclusions, how did they enlighten you?”

(I’m super excited to source The Ascent of Women by Dr Amanda Foreman. I don’t have netflix, but I will no doubt read up about it if I can!)

I also found one aspect they talk about in the video very interesting. Possibly, at some point in history, men and women were equal. And in ancient times when laws were being constructed, men made specific laws that defined women as inferior. This is such an interesting aspect of our history – I agree – why aren’t we taught it specifically in schools?

Continue reading

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Suffragette Chronicals

Modern Suffragettes: Miss Emma Watson

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Emma Watson – can this girl be any more amazing? She is an impeccable example of how women my age can go beyond the mandatory roles played in the media (sexy, seductive, self-absorbed) and commit their work to the benefit of others. Her commitment as UN Goodwill Ambassador and leader of the He for She movement, she initiated the campaign by inviting men to the conversation.

Genius! It seems so obvious, but we’ve been so busy focusing on our oppression we forgot that this is man’s issue too. But it is hard when a lot of men seem threatened by feminism.

I came across a man recently who told me that women already have and had equality, and that ‘this third wave of feminism simply encourages female supremacy‘. I initially thought he was joking … Is it always typical of a party who don’t primarily benefit from a cause to be threatened by it? But his statement wasn’t wholly untruthful – in fact, he was right in suggesting that women have it better than we did 50, 90 years ago. Our main goals – voting rights, equal education for women, property ownership and reproductive rights have been achieved. Except that it doesn’t immediately equate to the full rights and social standings as a man, and it definitely doesn’t cover developing countries and extremist cultures where women are still significantly oppressed, victimised and discriminated against.

Sadly, many women also see feminism as a nasty word. They see it as this sort of, culture of greed where women (particularly ‘privileged’ white women or ‘angry’ black women) simply want more and more, and cannot appreciate what we have got. That’s about the same as saying to an African American, “quit complaining about your oppression, you’re not a slave anymore”. It’s extremely offensive, closed-minded and ignorant. The truth is, the many feminists I know are extremely grateful to everyone who supports us, male or female, authority or civilian, but in particular the Suffragettes and feminists of past who faced discrimination and oppression in order to fight for the freedoms we have today.

We are in the third, but not final wave of feminism. To give up the debate now would be to stick a middle finger up to the efforts of the women who fought before us. And as Emma says, Call me a ‘diva’, call me a ‘feminazi’, call me ‘difficult’, call me a ‘First World feminist’ … it’s not going to stop me from trying to do the right thing and make sure that the right thing happens.

Boom.

 

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