Are You a Curator or a Choreographer?

It’s a (perfection) trap! 

Blame Instagram or Pinterest. Or Chrissy Teigen (no, no, I love you, Chrissy). The rise of curated perfection didn’t start with social media (quick side eye to Martha Stewart), but it has certainly proliferated it.  

First it was all contouring makeup and filters. Then the social critique came and we had the inevitable “cool girl” backlash and, with it, a lot of memes about all the wine mommy drinks and trending tongue-in-cheek hashtags. 

Now we’re pummeled with photos of perfectly coiffed bed-headed women asserting “I woke up like this” and shiny toddlers in matched gingham with just an artful smear of birthday cake frosting on a chin. I particularly love the “outtake” shots from family photo sessions with professional photographers. Yeah, no one is looking in the right direction and mom has her head thrown back in a hearty laugh, likely because she is so delighted with her family life. But, come on. She also selected that photo out of a series of true humdingers where someone was about to sneeze or the baby had her finger in her nose. 

It’s all as if to say, “look at how imperfect and authentic I am being.” 


The Curators

From the Latin word curare, meaning “to care,” a curator is a caretaker of a collection or exhibit, as in a museum. The curator is in charge of the cataloguing and display of artifacts. In that way we are all the curators of our lives and what we collect and exhibit along the way. 

Curators tend to be more concerned with the opinions of others and are externally motivated by praise and acknowledgement. There is nothing wrong with finding pleasure in admiration. Human beings thrive on positive reinforcement from infancy. 

So, by all means, share your family photos and sweaty gym selfies and wine jokes. It’s your collection. Now, I’m not a fan of letting it all hang out online either. As far as I’m concerned, bedroom issues and break ups should happen, invariably, offline. But social media is meant for sharing, so enjoy yourself. 

But if you find you increasingly worry about how you stack up against peers and are spending more time than you think you should on carefully arranging a perfect/not perfect life for the Insta, you may want to explore your motivations with a coach.

Remember, it’s life. It’s dynamic and unpredictable and it nearly never sits still. 


Meanwhile somewhere backstage …

The perfection trap takes many forms, and there is another insidious version of this type of image burden. Whatever you call it – having it all, wearing many hats – modern American cities and suburbs are plagued with pressurized one-upmanship. 

It calls to mind the 2011 Sarah Jessica Parker movie, I Don’t Know How She Does It, about a woman who seemingly manages every aspect of her family life, climbs the ladder at work, maintains a thriving marriage and social life, all while staying SJP slender and impeccably dressed. Of course, there’s a plot device to shatter her perfect image, but the point is, there are people out there trying to live exactly like her fictional character. Some may be able to maintain the pace and even excel in their multiple roles, while others are precariously close to slipping. 

Men suffer in equal measure from the pressures of being a jack-of-all-trades hero. Keeping up with the proverbial Joneses leads to unsustainable levels of financial, emotional, physical and spiritual expenditure.


The Choreographers

In contrast to Curators, there are these people who meticulously direct all the moving parts of life, not just the final image. To choreograph is to arrange or conduct the movements, progress, or details of something, as in a dance. Choreographers are interested in the end result, of course, but their goal is not a single moment in time being put out to the public. Choreographers are often considered Type A personalities, characterized by competitiveness and perfectionism. They are internally motivated and put pressure on themselves to do things “right.”

A curator can come across as controlling to their families and coworkers, but to the broader public can seem like a powerhouse achiever. That public persona can be intoxicating and some Curators live with a fear of cracking the image they’ve crafted. Finding some balance in how to get the results you want without having to control every minute detail is key to your peace of mind. A coach can help you uncover some of the motivations for your actions and help you identify new, collaborative behaviors to bring into work and personal relationships. 


Which life are you living? 

Are you a Curator or a Choreographer? Perhaps you share traits of both. How do you benefit from your type? Let me know in the comments.