The Problem With Perfection & The City With A Solution Posted on 18 Aug 04:08 , 0 comments
Article by Rachael Leonie.
Preface: Be better, study longer, try harder. Along the way to adulthood, there were always social standards encouraging me to reach perfection. In high school, I wanted popularity; in college, it was good grades; post-grad, a high-paying job; along the way, I craved other standards of perfection such as to be smarter, skinnier, prettier, or happier.
How was I told to achieve any of these things? By “reaching for the stars,” being “the best I can be,” and, at times, faking it “till I make it.” What if my culture’s obsession with perfection didn’t exist? What would I do if I wasn’t afraid of failure?
…what would you do?
Welcome to Buenos Aires: an amateur’s paradise, a playground for the jack-of-all-trades. There’s a reason the city runs rife with expat start-ups, is swamped with creativity, and consistently inundated with artisanal crafts of all kinds. And (if it hasn’t been apparent already) it’s not because of the economy. There’s no logic behind the reasoning, and yet, at the same time, it’s a logical reason. Argentines don’t strive for perfection; rather, they pursue curiosities.
Blame it on the disastrous dictatorship, the seething social unrest, the current default crisis –Argentines have long ago accepted that their country is not running the world. And they’re cool with that. So they remain active, yet aloof; committed, but skeptical. (Want a better idea of what I mean? Just attend any public screening of a World Cup match and compare the people’s reactions to the game to that of the interjecting, government-sponsored “En todo estás vos” campaign commercials.) Argentines are aware that in everything good, there’s something bad; and that even when things are great (hola, Eva), they won’t be perfect.
Their attitude for their country permeates their personalities in the same demeanor. If a porteño wants to play the guitar, by god he will do it: but he won’t slave away strumming for hours in an attempt to win the fortune and fame of Jimi Hendrix. In most cases, it’s just a hobby, the desire to play, a curiosity –nada más.
Here, you don’t do something because you’re good at it: you do it because you’re interested in it. And isn’t that how it should be? How many people in the world are oppressing untapped opportunities just because they know they could fail? that they have to start at the bottom? that they aren’t the best?
From photography tutorials to pottery workshops to skateboarding classes to group exercise boot camps, Buenos Aires abounds in opportunities for those who dabble. In the city of experimentation and exploration, no one laughs at me when my feet sloppily intertwine at tango class, my Yoga cobra pose looks limp, or my wannabe Picasso appears like nothing more than a melted rainbow. That’s just the porteña way.
If you’re an expat currently living in Buenos Aires, I beg you to explore something you’ve been curious about for a while –even if only to abandon it after one attempt. Take that tango class you’ve been avoiding, pull out the Spanish (no matter how yanqui your accent may be!), or test out an off-the-beaten path exercise class. You have nothing to lose…posta!
Rachael Leonie aka The Wanderita is a spunky twenty-something-year-old who found her way back to Buenos Aires after a series of misadventures through South America. She spends her free time talking porteño with taxi drivers and taste-testing choripán. Follow her as she bares her soul to Argentina at www.TheWanderita.com.