How much of our lives have we dedicated to perfection? The straight A’s, the beach bodies, the perfect scores; the list goes on. Striving towards perfection and then not achieving it can lead to depression, unhealthy mood swings, and self-deprecating doubt. These frustrations pile on, and eventually, a perfectionist may find themselves struggling to accept themselves.
If a person can’t accept who they are, they lose sight of their selves, and then, seek out ways to sculpt who they are supposed to be. I am a straight A student. I am a size zero. I achieved one-hundred percent. Underneath all those titles expressed through accomplishments, who is the person who achieved all those things? They couldn’t have possibly made it through without having made some mistakes and being imperfect in other things. Faults and flaws are what make individuals different from each other.
How Is Perfection Defined
Being a straight A student or wearing a size zero in jeans is by no means an absolute definition of perfection. If those things are considered your goals, then great! Go for it. Work hard to get what you want because there’s nothing wrong with that. But make certain that you are doing it for genuine reasons. It has to be what you want. Not what everyone wants for you and everyone else. Having B’s or C’s or wearing whatever size you wear does not dictate how close or far away you are from perfection. You dictate who you are. Perfection does not define you, and you are not defined by perfection.
The dictionary defines perfection as “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” The dictionary defines flaw as “a mistake or shortcoming in a plan, theory, or legal document that causes it to fail or reduces its effectiveness.” Was having a B in World History a shortcoming in your plans? Does it reduce your effectiveness as a person? Will you not be able to perform your duties in your daily work and personal lives if you do not nail an A in that class? Maybe it does if you plan to study History in college and you plan to become a professor or a scholar in the field. If so, congratulations! You have a goal! But you will have to make mistakes along the way in order to learn what not to do. That B in World History informed you of what it was that you didn’t know. You’ve made mistakes, leaving you the opportunity to learn.
This is how you grow. Growth is defined as “the process of developing or maturing physically, mentally, or spiritually.” By not being perfect, there is always room to grow. Striving and achieving perfection would infer that there is no more growth needed. You have peaked physically, mentally and spiritually. There is nothing else to satisfy. Nothing to learn. Nothing to do.
Perfection sounds a little boring, doesn’t it?
Don’t Strive For Perfection. Strive For Balance
Ever gone on an interview and been asked, “Tell us your strengths?” You’d might answer:
- “I’m great at analyzing!”
- “I work hard at what I do!”
- “I’m a kind, loving person!”
These skills are wonderful assets to have. For what the employer is looking for, these could be the keys to getting in the door. But then, the interviewer asks you, “well, what are your weaknesses?”
You stumble. You aren’t sure what to say. You haven’t thought about it much, or you couldn’t come up with anything before the interview. The reality is that what makes us strong can also make us weak.
- “I analyze too much and I forget to listen to my instincts, thus second-guessing my conclusions.”
- “I work too hard. Last year, I was in the hospital because I was stressed and malnourished, and my doctor told me I had to take a week off.”
- “I’m really nice. I’m so nice that I let people take advantage of me and I don’t say anything because I don’t want to hurt their feelings.”
And that’s okay. While you were trying to become better at problem-solving, elevating your work ethic, and sustaining your virtues, you might not have realized that trying to do too much of one thing can be a bad thing. It’s important to work towards becoming better at those things, but it’s also important to accept that you are human and that your strengths aren’t always going to be consistent. Don’t strive for perfection, strive for balance, and you may find peace within yourself.
Accept that you could be better at something, but where you are now is where you’re supposed to be. Trust yourself, believe in yourself, and allow yourself to be you. Forcing yourself to be something more can be disastrous for your personal and work life, and your health.
If Someone Was Perfect, They’d Be A Robot
Ideas of perfection, whether they be of our intangible attributes or our bodies, are social constructs that dictate expectations and standards. Comparisons are often drawn to categorize people. That’s what our minds do: organize the chaos. But if everyone was expected to look or behave a certain way, we’d all look and behave the same. As obvious of a statement as that may seem, it’s not so widely conceded.
People come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They hold their own beliefs and morals, aspirations and fears. Their experiences are their own, and no one ever experiences precisely the same life as the other. Everyone makes mistakes and have blemishes and faults. These elements cannot be manufactured. As a result, the standards dictated by social constructs are irrelevant. Everyone is different, and that is okay.