In my life, striving for perfection has been a false concept that has frequently led me astray. It has caused me to place value on the wrong things at times. It has caused me to stop listening to my inner self for fear of failing in the eyes of others. I wondered how the concept of perfection became so ubiquitous in our society, how it began, how it harms us and even has some advantage.
In every part of my life, I have strived for perfection. I believed that achieving perfection could make me “acceptable” to others.
I had a deep sense of inadequacy, insecurity, and inferiority. And, unconsciously decided that if I could simply reach perfection with myself, my body, and my life, I would finally feel the profound love and inner acceptance that I craved within myself.
I always wanted a perfect report card when I was a kid: only straight A’s would do. In school and college, I would spend hours upon hours studying, doing extra credit, getting all the work done, all in a desperate attempt to preserve a 4.0 GPA and stay ahead of others.
I was petrified of making a single mistake and demanded perfection in every task. I was afraid of being judged by others. I didn’t see my failures as learning opportunities; I saw them as a way for people to see what I didn’t want them to see: that I was flawed, imperfect, and in some ways insufficient.
Looking back, I can see how damaging this obsession was to my freedom to thrive and appreciate my life. In my pursuit of perfection, I took a huge toll of pressure to be someone I wasn’t. I squandered countless hours pretending to be someone else and wishing I was anywhere other than where I was.
But the most important thing I realized was that I wasn’t actually living, just surviving, in my search for perfection.
The truth is that longing for perfection limits us. We spend far too much time doing, striving, and accomplishing in our never-ending effort to get it all “perfect” that we miss out on what life is about: being in each moment and enjoying life where we are, as we are.
When we are preoccupied with getting the perfect appearance, finding the ideal partner, landing on the perfect career, or being the perfect person, we lose sight of how gloriously our life is blooming right in front of our eyes.
Perfection distracts you from the amazing voyage you’re on and keeps you from noticing the blessings that are always in front of us. So, the next time you are caught up in the never-ending chase of perfectionism, keep these three things in mind:
1. Perfection is not Attainable.
We work so hard in our life to pursue an ideal that is nearly impossible to achieve. There’s no such thing as a perfect body, profession, or life. It is not realistic for our lives to be completely cheerful, joyful, and problem-free. Unexpected disasters occur. Something may not turn out the way you wanted it to. Someone you care about may disappoint you.
When you realize that perfection isn’t something you can accomplish and retain indefinitely, you may let go of the never-ending desire for perfection in your career, body, parenting abilities, or relationship.
Giving up on this unrealistic ambition is a big relief. We don’t have to chase perfection because it’s unattainable! When we let go of the illusion of perfection, life becomes more manageable, less stressful, and a lot more enjoyable.
Perfection leaves little room for mistakes and joy, and while life might be messy at times, it is during these times that we excel and enjoy the adventure in all the phases.
2. Perfection is not Authentic.
When you are constantly attempting to be flawless, you miss out on the opportunity to show the world who you indeed are. You stop being genuine to yourself and begin to hide from the world, desperately trying to cover your perceived flaws.
In my quest for perfection, I never allowed myself to be exposed – show up and be seen. I imagined that after I’d achieved perfection, I’d find approval and recognition. But, because the goal of perfection is a never-ending desire, support and acceptance never come.
Only after I had the confidence to reject my impossible aspirations and present my true self to the world, flaws and all, did I begin to find the inner acceptance I had sought all along.
Your flawed self is sufficient. Allow yourself to be who you are in the world. It can be frightening to let go of our ideal and let the world see us as we are after we have expected perfection from ourselves for years. But this is where your actual, natural beauty may be found, not in perfection, but in bringing your entire self to the world.
3. Perfection is Stagnation.
Nobody is designed to be flawless in any aspect of life, whether your body, relationships, personal growth, habits, or work because everything is static in a “perfect” world. There is no development or progression. We learn and grow only through failures, stumbles, and experimenting.
Looking back on the past days, most of my seemingly irrational or nonsensical decisions ended up bringing me to a route that was a perfect fit for what I needed and wanted. That’s how life is.
Those people who strive for perfection in their life, wanting to arrange everything and have everything happen precisely as they think it should, miss out on some of life’s biggest surprises and most memorable experiences.
It’s a new perspective on life. Allowing ourselves to make mistakes is a relief, whether it’s messing up our eating plan, getting into an argument with a family member, expressing emotions to a good friend and letting it all come out wrong, or engaging in a new pastime knowing you’ll probably mess it up while attempting to master it. These “mistakes” allow us to incorporate input and chart a new course.
When we are continuously striving for perfection, we miss out on the most important lessons to us. And since we are constantly looking ahead, we miss out on life’s most crucial moment: now.
Perfection isn’t something you can strive for because it doesn’t exist. So, the next time you find yourself attempting to be a perfect version of yourself, remember that the imperfect, flawed, vulnerable version of yourself is enough.