| A Better You |

Beyond the Illusion

Perfection is beautiful but illusory. It is our humanness, with all its guts and glory, that is a true representation of beauty

Beyond the Illusion
Sara Eisemann

“When we are young, it’s the illusion of perfection that we fall in love with. As we age, it’s the humanness that we fall in love with.” J. Brown

The pull toward perfection is the young belief that to be exposed in an imperfect state is the epitome of shame. The younger self does not yet know that the glass cage of imperfection is still a cage, albeit a beautiful one. It prevents us from reaching out to others and keeps them from touching us. The arrogance of youth supposes that it takes courage and strength to maintain the impossible standard of perfection and that great adoration is due to those who achieve it.

With the wisdom of age comes the understanding that true beauty lies not in symmetry, but in the raw, ragged edges of exposure. In those contours are carved our stories of vulnerability, of struggle and overcoming, and also of battle and defeat. Each is branded with the unique mark of its owner, and no two are exactly the same.

What we begin to understand with time is that the pursuit of perfection is actually a lazy shortcut — the mold is created and it just needs to be filled. With humanness, each individual’s course must be charted on its own, with no blueprint to follow. Each one of us has to mine for the beauty within and expose what lays dormant inside us until we touch it. We begin to appreciate that owning up to our imperfection creates a glow much brighter than the illusory shine of faultlessness. Whereas perfection is two- dimensional, this light has depth, perception, and an intricate pattern,

For each of us who has tread the path of life and borne the scars of being human, there is a richness we have accrued along the way, and most of us wouldn’t trade it. As we finger each wrinkle and reflect on how it was won, most of us miss the silk of youth, but few of us would go back to the person we were at that time. The deepening and softening of our faces and hearts are tribute to both the breaking and the rebuilding we have braved. The lessons learned, the judgment dropped, the compassion grown, and the expansion of our hearts are not gains we would easily relinquish.

With the passing of years, we come to understand that a brand-new house with shiny floors and gleaming counters is just a house, albeit a fresh, sparkly, beautiful one. It’s the years of scuff marks, rubbed-out carpet, and tired upholstery that transform that house into a home. Only when it has been thoroughly lived in, with memories peeking through every crevice, does it deserve to be called home. Only then does it become the safe harbor that all its inhabitants yearn to return to.

The same is true with life. Perfection is beautiful but illusory. It is our humanness, with all its guts and glory, that is a true representation of beauty.


Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.


The Media and Mental Health
Sarah Rivkah Kohn


’m my own worst enemy in this column.

I get calls that sound like this: “My therapist and I aren’t forming a good alliance, and I’m also experiencing delayed grief, so I need someone who practices somatic work… just like you spoke about in your column.”

The media is a double-edged sword. It’s a very powerful medium through which we can share and learn valuable information. Frum media in particular provides us with a space to explore topics in a way that doesn’t contradict Torah values.

But it isn’t without collateral damage.

Sometimes an article or column is excellent… so much so that it leaves the reader feeling like he/she now is an expert on the topic. And I know because of the related calls and follow-up emails I’ll receive.

And even when it isn’t my work being discussed, I’ll find myself wishing I could have edited a line to reflect the nuance the topic deserves. (Spoiler: A little trick I’ve learned is to obsessively add words like “may” or “sometimes” or “many.”)

So on behalf of many of us writing about mental health related topics:

Please don’t use our material as diagnostic tools for yourself or others. Yes, it can create a curious exploration…. Hmmm, could it be that my meds wearing off is what’s causing my insomnia? Or the new anxious feelings? Or perhaps it’s that vitamin deficiency? Take this idea to a medical or mental health professional, who can get to know you and will be able to offer clarity no media can.

Don’t weaponize content. (Even the magazine says all spouses are supposed to do xyz!) Nope, you shouldn't. This is true even if the magazine did say so, and certainly when it didn’t. We sometimes see what we want to see because of our own blind spots.

Word count is real. And it means there’s no way we can cover a topic in full. So regard mental health content the way you would highlight reels. Something interests you? Read more. Talk to someone about it. But don’t just assume that’s it. Because so often we have to cut the one piece that would be the most important part for you to know about.


Sarah Rivkah Kohn is the founder and director of Links Family, an organization servicing children and  teens who lost a parent.


Dr. Jennie Berkovich

I don’t like BRATS. No, not the kind you’re thinking of (although those aren’t great either). I’m talking about the once-highly promoted BRAT diet, which was considered the preferred diet after any event illness involving the gastrointestinal system.

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. In the past, we believed that after vomiting and diarrhea, the GI system needed “a break,” and bland foods, like the BRAT diet, should be given for several days. As it turns out, current research shows that once children are feeling better, there is no need to limit their diet. In fact, advancing to a regular diet has actually proven to speed up recovery. Once appetite returns, offer your child’s usual meals as tolerated and prioritize hydration. Goodbye BRAT blandness!


Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician in Chicago and serves as the Director of Education for the Jewish Orthodox Medical Association (JOWMA)


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 885)

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