Perfection

Since growing up, we all have this idea of perfection ingrained into ourselves. The idea that what we should be striving for is perfection and that we aren’t being the best we can be if we don’t achieve perfection.  Truth is though, it’s impossible to achieve this concept that we have in our head. From what I’ve noticed, this is very problematic for lots of people, yet no one thinks about the idea that perfection is bullshit. I’m going to discuss more why I think the term “perfect” is detrimental to almost everyone in society.

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According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of perfect is “having no mistakes or flaws; completely correct or accurate; having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.”. How many people  have zero mistakes or flaws? The answer is no one. The idea of this “perfect person” that everyone is so fixated on becoming is not achievable.

The concept we should be focusing on is being the best you can be, according to your own definition. There is no one definition of the best person you can be, although others may try to convince you otherwise. It’s about getting a firm grasp on who you are as a person, and deciding where you want to be. Until you can firmly identify where you are, how could you expect to improve?

For individuals that strive for their idea of perfection, they’re setting themselves up for disappointment. Even though most people in society do this, every time you reach a new achievement or feat, you won’t be satisfied. You’re always going to find ways that you can improve what you do. Once again, perfection is this systemically created ideal that is instilled into our minds from a young age.

Looking at this idea of perfection through a feminist lens gives me another perspective. From very young ages, girls are told that they are to strive to perfection and that practice makes perfect. They are told that they should strive to be the prettiest; to be the smartest of their class; to find a man to marry that can provide money and support. This is the basic outline of the “perfect world” that adults set into the mind of young girls. Realizing that you can’t be the best in everything and that you won’t achieve your perfect world can tear people apart. Also, having this idea constantly being reinforced by those around you and those you care about, can hurt when you don’t live up to the unreasonable standards set.

I do think perfection is a word commonly used in dialogue. Sometimes you’ll hear after a music performance “That was perfect!” Was it though? Maybe you thought it was flawless, but did the performer think so? Did another member of the audience think it was perfect, or could they see room for improvement?

My point in all this is that there is no such thing as perfect, especially when you could never get every person to agree on their definition of perfect. I hope from this you can apply this to life and not worry so much about being perfect, but about striving to be the best you are capable of. I also hope that if you have kids or interact with kids, that you don’t instill ideas of unreasonable futures into their heads.

8 thoughts on “Perfection

  1. I like how you bring up that when we always strive for an unattainable perfection, we will never be satisfied with our accomplishments. This reminds me of a part in Amy Poehler’s book, Yes Please, where she addresses a similar problem in her chapter called “Treat your career like a bad boyfriend.” Poehler makes the argument that ambivalence is the key to success because if you care less, you’ll be happier with where you are in your career/life and what you’ve accomplished. This is a slightly different way to put it, but I think both are really helpful ways to point out that many of us aren’t ever happy with the way we are, or what we’ve accomplished, but we should be!

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  2. I am so happy you write this. This is definitely something that deserves some dialogue, and I think this world needed someone to tell them to wake up about this. Well done!

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    1. Thank you! And like I mentioned, it’s something I struggle with, striving towards “perfection”, and it takes an active thought process to really not try and work towards this ideal.

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  3. I love this! I think its so important to remember that as long as you are doing the best that you can do in that moment, you are doing enough.

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    1. Thanks, and I completely agree. It’s just that act of getting yourself to think that way that is the challenge, because of how ingrained the idea of perfection is in our brains’.

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