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New Year, Same Fear: The Fear of Imperfection
Editor’s Note: This blog mentions suicide. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to connect with a trained counselor.
Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss was a dancer who rose to fame on a show called “So You Think You Can Dance?” After competing on the show, tWitch caught the eye of famed actress and daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. In 2014, he became the show’s beloved dancing DJ and eventually transitioned to a co-executive producer. tWitch was married to another famed dancer, Allison Holker, and they shared three beautiful children.
The couple’s dancing TikToks took the world by storm during the pandemic, and many found joy in watching tWitch and Allison doing something together that they both loved. Each day, their viewers caught a glimpse of the fun-loving guy who was known for dancing around The Ellen Show audience. He was admired by so many — many of whom had never met him personally. From the outside looking in, tWitch had it perfect.
On December 13, 2022, tWitch took his own life.
What may have seemed like an ideal, flawless life was one masked by struggles that the outside world was unaware of. In no way am I suggesting that tWitch’s death had anything to do with keeping up an image of perfection. But how often do we look at the lives of others and think, “If only my life could be like that?”
Throughout the day, I find myself opening different apps on my phone — scrolling through the lives of friends, family, and, truthfully, a bunch of people I don’t know outside of the confines of social media. Each post on my feed displays what seems like the picture-perfect scenario — happy moments that many of us compare ourselves to and wonder how we can attain the same.
Or maybe we’re on the flip side. Perhaps we’re the ones posting the picture-perfect moments of our lives to simulate that we have it all together. I know I’m guilty of this. The other week I posted a professionally-taken picture of my dog and me wishing everyone a Merry Christmas — the most joyful time of the year, right? The reality was that I was laid up on the couch, sick, and struggling with different pieces of bad news I had just received. That picture I posted, although it’s a photo that I love, didn’t represent my imperfect life.
The constant societal need to present ourselves as perfect has caused us to develop a fear of being imperfect or not good enough. This fear is crippling to our jobs, relationships, families, and mental well-being. I’m not sure about you, but my attempts to live up to the posed, not-so-real-life pictures on social media are exhausting. And truthfully, striving to look like we have it all together can cause us to miss the reality of what’s happening behind the scenes — just like the world did with Stephen ‘tWitch’ Boss.
When we’re wrapped up in comparison, we can begin to habitually see the lives of others through a clouded lens while we exist in an endless struggle to measure up. In our pursuit of the unattainable standard, we fall further away from the truth of who we are and how we were created. In this sense, our efforts to hide our imperfection mirrors are like Adam and Eve in the garden as they hid from the Lord:
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
Genesis 3:8–10 ESV
When we mask reality for the sake of appearance, we sew proverbial fig leaves together as a shield between us and our created nature. Are we afraid of being seen for who we really are — imperfect and in need of grace? In need of our Lord? This reality is hard to face, but it is the way to living authentically from the heart. This is where God meets us.
Wherever you find yourself in this — either trying to present yourself as perfect, feeling like you’re not good enough, or both — know that you don’t have to strive. You don’t have to put forth a Herculean effort or a perfectly curated Instagram profile to gain acceptance or appreciation. Our God meets us in each moment so that we don’t have to hide — from Him or anyone else[Ephesians 1:3–6]. The only standard we need to meet is His, and He says:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” — Matthew 11: 28–29 ESV