Perfection is a Myth

How often do you desire to be perfect?

According to The Oxford Dictionary, perfect is defined as having everything that is necessary; complete and without faults or weaknesses. Alternatively, it’s defined as completely correct, exact and accurate. Can you think of anything or anyone on earth that is complete and correct in every single way? I’ll give you a couple of seconds to think far and wide.

I bet you came up with nothing. Well, it’s because perfection is a myth. Nothing is perfect. No one is perfect, not Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Barrack Obama, Oprah Winfrey or Elon Musk. Every one of these big achievers has talked about their failures/mistakes severally. One of my favourite quotes about failure is by Albert Einstein.

“Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.”

— Albert Einstein

So why do we desire perfection when it’s impossible?

The word “perfect” was derived from the Latin word perficere which breaks down into per– (“completely”) and facere (“do”). So, in essence, to do something completely. I wonder why it got changed to doing something without flaws.

The obsessive desire for perfection is exhausting, but we carry on with this day by day. The idea that things can be perfect puts us in a false reality, and we get so focused on the perfect outcome that we ignore the process or the progress. Perfectionism is draining, time-consuming and often leaves us feeling unaccomplished. It makes us believe we will achieve our perfect goal, and we get lost in the process and ignore our progress.

Perfection—the action or process of improving something until it is faultless—is a myth.

Everything we think is perfect has a tendency to be better. I learnt this the hard way because once upon a time, I was stuck on the notion that things can be perfect. I spent obscene hours obsessing over my work before submitting it. I even applied this same notion to my relationships. I was looking for Mr Perfect/Mr Tick All My Boxes. It took me a long time (thank goodness I realized I was in denial) to get out of this bubble.

Something close to perfect is achievable, and that is best/excellence. Strive for excellence, not perfectionStrive for realistic and not unrealistic. I bet the Apple Production Team doesn’t make a perfect phone whenever a new iPhone is released. Instead, they create a checklist of the changes (especially hardware) to the phone and run with it knowing that they can make several software changes to the phone to keep making it better, not perfect.

Here are a few ways to prevent perfectionism from taking over your life

  • Be Self-aware
  • Appreciate the process
  • Allow yourself make mistakes
  • Remember that we learn every day
  • Set SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) goals
  • Focus on doing your best and trust that it will be good enough
  • Remember that your hero/model/mentor is not perfect. Superman makes mistakes, and even The President.

Nothing can be perfect, and that’s what makes life more enjoyable.

Mariam Shittu

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