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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Let's Talk

Weighing in on the Historic US Election

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So how do you judge what a man is worth
By what he builds or buys?
You can never see with your eyes on earth
Look through heavens eyes

Through Heaven’s Eyes – Prince of Egypt

I think every man, woman and their dog has commented on this election, but considering the nature of my blog, it’s about time I’m spoken out. Hillary Clinton’s name has become synonymous with the term ‘Feminist’ – but not in the way you’re probably thinking. We know, or at least some of us know, that the messages behind both Hillary and Feminism are positive and progressive; but through negative press, propaganda and fear-mongering, people are reluctant to associate themselves with the name.

So how do you change mindsets when people aren’t open to change? Looking at this year’s Presidential campaign, the GOP targeted the darker side of people’s belief systems to promote their candidate, allowing them to think these dangerous and hateful mindsets are normal. It seems impossible to use reason with people who think this rhetoric is okay.

But then there comes a point when you have to say something. If people are going to just verbally spew any opinion without fact-checking or kindness, when is the right time to stand up and say – hey, this isn’t okay? I can say confidently that anyone who supports Trump, for political or personal reasons, is ultimately turning a blind eye to the endorsement of lies, racism, sexism, idiocy, sexual harassment, general harassment, arrogance, elitism and corruption, and is guilty by association. That is, they are allowing such archaic prejudices to thrive by disregarding them as important. In terms of Clinton, I question the way people portray her simply because her words and principles don’t reflect the ‘crookedness’ that the GOP publicise. Do I think she is faultless? No. Find me one Politician that is. But for leadership, I believe you need to have good values. This means that the ideology that underpins your policies needs to come from a mindset of open mindedness and growth. In terms of this, frankly, Hillary’s policies are miles ahead of Trump’s, and reflect a more forgiving, compassionate, and human value system.

I could say that there are people indirectly excusing Trump’s behaviour by saying that, although they despise the man, they are voting for his policies. To a degree, this is reasonable. In the case of say, Bill Clinton, his infidelities didn’t stop him from being a successful President. Even Winston Churchill and FDR had failures in their personal lives that didn’t extend to their professional ones. But each as LEADERS had progressive and compassionate world views and inspired hope in all their people. In the words of JK Rowling, “if you want to know what a man is really like, take a look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”. It doesn’t take the ‘liberal’ media to convince us that Trump has a questionable moral system. He clearly encourages a violent and racist rhetoric. The way Trump speaks about anyone who isn’t white, male, or doesn’t support him, shows that – in a world that is becoming increasingly more equality conscious – Trump is not a great spokesperson for all the people.

I consider myself a moderate in my own country – I see the benefits and flaws of principles from both major parties – but in terms of America, I am a strong Democrat. Largely because – throughout Obama’s two terms and through this current election – the Republican party have proven themselves to be untrustworthy, deceptive, hateful and holding back of a progressive first world country. (What kind of democracy lets an opposition block every move the party in power makes?). Because of the Republican party, America has held their citizens back from receiving first-world quality health care rights, have accepted and encouraged a gun-reliance mentality (unlike any other first world country), and are responsible for fundamentalist Christianity having too much control in political policy. Religion is a philosophical practice to encourage good. But the Bible was written thousands of years ago and isn’t practical in, or reflective of modern governing.

But for those who are vocally against Hillary by using ‘evidence’ dug up from right-wing conspiracy groups, I’ve had enough. Hillary Clinton’s name has been dragged through the dirt through this entire election, and a lot of the lack of support is not generally through a disagreement in policy (which is a fair reason not to support a candidate), but because they believe Hillary is as corrupt as Trump seems to suggest – without actually fact checking. (Look at it this way: the Republicans have been trying to dig up dirt on the Clinton’s for 30 years. The FBI, a neutral entity that was responsible for the impeachment of Nixon, is currently headed by a Republican. If they had found any shred of evidence that Hillary was guilty of such crimes, you can bet my bottom dollar she would be in jail. But she is not.)

I will admit that I am somewhat attracted to the concept of a first Female President. No – I’m not somewhat attracted, I am VERY attracted. As a woman, these sorts of achievements to woman kind are incredible and historic – it’s an amazing time to be a woman when witnessing these triumphs. So maybe to a degree I am somewhat biased towards Hillary.

To me, if Barack Obama is the Harry Potter of the US Political World, Abraham Lincoln the Dumbledore and so on, then Hillary Clinton is the Hermione Granger. Ostracized and disliked for her intellect, lacking in popularity, and even considered an ‘Undesirable’ by Voldemort’s government (ha!), but let’s be honest – more capable and compassionate and strong than many like to admit.

But regardless of whether you like Clinton or not, we can all agree that it’s a very negative, nasty and personal election. One that is very addicting to watch, but also leaves you with a bitter feeling. As a Feminist, I really wish that the first nominated female President of the United States got a fair fight and the campaign focused more on policy for the people than personal spats. But the election has become a metaphor for the fight for Women’s right’s, where woman has been victimised or painted as evil and corrupt, and man has wielded his dominance by use of abusive tactics rather than reason or compassion. She has to convince everyone of her intellect and ability. He just has to turn up and NOT say that he wants to bang his daughter, and he gets applauded for good oratory skills. Such double standards is why we have such a mistrust of women in politics, and why so many women don’t recognise their own liberation.

“We are not seeking ‘equality’ with men. We are inherently equal. We are seeking liberation from male social, political, economic and other forms of oppression. Until this difference is recognised and prioritised among all feminists and feminist allies, the seeking of anything will be at men’s discretion, and that is anti-feminist” – Unknown

This is such a historic moment in history for womankind, and yet it’s hardly been central to the election race at all. Partly, I believe, because Hillary wants to earn her right to the Presidency without the focus of her gender, but mainly because the significance of the role has been downplayed by a male culture that – although on the surface monopolizes on the modern liberation of races, gender and sexuality – secretly misses the power it used to wield on others. Call me cynical, but yes, this election has been very metaphorical, representing the struggle women have faced for thousands of years against a patriarchal culture.

Let’s not look back on this election in the history books and cringe. Let’s not miss our chance to make history. C’mon America! You can do this!

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