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In Pursuit of the Perfect Bag

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
In Pursuit of the Perfect Bag

I was in NYC last week and scored my first “street bag” in the nearly three years since I’ve lived there. For those of you unfamiliar with New York City ways, vendors alight every corner of the popular tourist neighborhoods, selling cell phone covers, hats, scarves, and, among other thing, purses. While I lived in New York I frequently snagged these purses, in constant pursuit of the perfect bag. The best thing about them is that they typically cost about $20 or $30, much less than you usually pay in a “real” store, so your pursuit can come with little (ish)  guilt to boot.

Even before living in New York I have spent my life in pursuit of the perfect bag. My requirements have changed throughout the years, but my expectations have always been high—enough pockets to make essential items easily accessible (essential items ten years ago included lip gloss and gum; essential items these days include diapers and wipes); big enough to hold all the things I might need to face any eventuality the day may offer—an umbrella for an unexpected rainstorm, snacks in case we get caught somewhere for more than five minutes, a book, a flashlight, water, a change of clothes for my two year old, my work calendar, my laptop, business cards, advil, and of course the ever-essential lip gloss and gum.      Purses need to be big but not too big. Easily accessed but not too open. Soft but firm enough to allow me to find the items inside quickly.  Lightweight.   Versatile enough to go with any outfit.

As you might imagine, I’ve spent decades in disappointment.

Each new acquisition in my pursuit promises to be THE ONE. The bag that exceeds all bags. The bag that will house the items to make me a successful person/mother/worker all at the same time. Yet, alas, each bag eventually and inevitably fails me. It usually does one or two things well, but fails to do ALL the things., My relentless pursuit of PERFECTION in a bag causes me to continually dismiss all the bags that are just fine in search of  the one that’s even better.

It’s quite rude, when you think about it. I have a closet full of lovely bags who have great pockets or who have plenty of room for my laptop or who are a delightful fashionable style. I have big bags and bigger bags. I have bags in black and brown and orange and green, and—thanks to my most recent score—silver.

I’m sorry, poor beautiful silver bag. I love you now, but I undoubtedly will soon find your flaws and toss you aside when the next perfect bag glimmers into view.

Why do we do such things? Why do we seek perfection, even long after it has become clear that perfection is unattainable? Why are we restless with what we have, longing for what might be out there?

The grass is always greener, right? Or maybe… it’s not. Maybe the grass is not greener. It might be different. It might be exciting for a time. It might feel initially like you’ve landed on the PERFECT solution. But as my decades-long-pursuit of the perfect bag has taught me, there is no such thing as perfection.  And if you are constantly searching for perfection you will never stop searching. So to paraphrase  both the Rolling Stones and Crosby, Stills, and Nash:   you can’t always get what you (think you) want, so if you  just love the bag you’re with,  you might find you get just what you need.

How can you love the bag you’re with?  


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.