Unless you have been living under a rock for the last decade, you must have been challenged one time or the other about the need for you to be flawless and achieve the highest standard in some aspects of life. Well, you are not alone.

Children are praised for being perfect – pushed to get the perfect grades and graduate at the top of their classes. Consciously or subconsciously, the media are not helping the matter either. Magazines, Instagram and other platforms show us the perfect but unreal images of the people that we are striving to become. TED talks and bio-optimisation keep pushing us to always improve and be the best versions of ourselves. We are being challenged every time to have a successful and enviable career before we are 30.

Reality, though, is messy, and full of mistakes. Ups and downs are necessities on our way to success. Raising the bar higher does not necessarily make us more successful; it only makes us unhappier and lowers our chances of success.

Perfectionism is an illusion that none of us can ever attain.

Ironically, the factor pushing us to be the best may the same factor stopping us from achieving anything. Rather than helping us achieve the things that we want, the struggle to become perfect is doing the opposite. Innumerable young people are now debilitated, overwhelmed, unhappy, and stressed out. Our relentless pursuit of perfection may just be our abrupt end.

So perhaps the ultimate secret to happiness is to accept our imperfection. To acknowledge the fact that the people we see on the media do not have it all together. They have their failures and challenges. It is time we accepted being average, being imperfect. It is okay to be average, to graduate later than the so-called standard graduation age, to have a career that is not as glorious as we are told to accept. It is acceptable to not be the best in our class, to not start a family at the age we have been cautiously taught to do so.

Otherwise, a small mistake can send us into a downward spiral. Not only will such a mistake make us sad, but frustration and despair can come into our lives.

We need to appreciate that mistakes are not meant to be a problem; they are supposed to be a lesson to us. They are there to teach us things so we can improve to get a better result.

While we should not move our sight away from our goals, we need to celebrate the small victories. We should savour the great memory of the journey we went through on our way to the unachieved target.

We should not beat ourselves up over our failures. Rather pick important lessons and continue our journey towards our goals.

Nevertheless, the acceptance of imperfection is not an excuse to be lazy. Give it all you have. In the end, you should be able to say you did your best. Always remember that perfectionism is an illusion that no one can ever attain.