“I want to get it right. It has to be perfect!” is a mantra we often repeat to ourselves while we go through our day. From reorganizing the garage to simply drawing or writing for fun, we aim to achieve the impossible: perfection. The word ‘perfectionist’ is often thrown around as a colloquial category for those who are too nit-picky about their tasks, but it’s not just a select few who have this word driving their activities - it’s all of us.
Pushing ourselves to be the best we can possibly be is often something we are told to do continuously when we are passionate about our activities. Some of us, though, take this too literally. While using our passion to push us to excellence and to go above and beyond our expectations, we often lose sight of the end goal. I know because I've been there. We float away on our own ship with other mindless tasks, rather than focusing on the real purpose of our actions. The idea of being perfect blurs our true focus and doesn’t let us live the idea of “the journey is greater than the destination.” By saying that a ‘perfect’ end result is the epitome of our process, the time and effort spent to get to that place becomes futile and underappreciated.
Many of us gain a sense of satisfaction when we complete a task, regardless of the outcome. The feeling of having something checked off the never ending, mile-long to-do list gives us a sense of completion to some extent, no matter what (even when we add something to the list just to cross it off - I know I'm not alone here... am I right or am I right?) However, aiming for perfection in all of our 100s of tasks often stresses us out because this fixed and narrow mindset doesn’t fulfill us even though a small victory has been made. This way of thinking leaves us constantly worried about every little thing, even though the constant distress is unnecessary. By diminishing our mental health over such minimal problems, we sacrifice our happiness for an impossible goal - perfectionism.
Accepting our flaws makes us stronger in the long-run. Our imperfections are what truly define us and give us individuality in this world, but by eliminating them while aiming for orderly perfectionism, we blur into our background and lose the chance to stand out. Focusing too much on the idea of everything having to be uniform to a set standard with a lack of uniqueness makes people feel as though they are constantly being compared to someone or something. When we can let go and grow, we lose this fixed mindset, and a sense of peace can be achieved since societal standards aren’t holding back our every action and thought.
We’ve all heard of the cliché that “practice makes perfect”; however, this isn’t true by any stretch of the imagination. When we overspend our time on a task, we only better ourselves, but never truly become perfect. We, as humans, can always strive to be the best we can, but labeling one way of accomplishing something as perfect only diminishes other ways to get the same result. The term perfect is quite simply a social construct and is defined by what society views as ideal, but this term has a different connotation for everyone, so instead, modifying the phrase to “practice makes better” reveals the true colors of this world. Because it's our failures that help us learn and grow and make us stronger.
We often get so lost in the game of being perfect that we don’t realize that perfectionism isn’t possible. The diverse opinions of everyone in this world create such a broad concept of what is truly perfect, so achieving this is quite literally impossible. Get comfortable with failure so you can soar with success.
And the next time you get stuck in the "Everything has to be perfect" mindset, take a step back and let it go. Instead find the beauty in the imperfections & notice how quickly your mind, body and soul find peace.
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