The Truth About Perfection

It’s a Dirty Little Lie

By Kim Thirion
Image: Shenghung Lin

No one is perfect

We have flaws, regrets, desires — we wish something on our body would look differently than it does. We wish we were smarter, faster, thinner, stronger. We see all these things we want to change, and we ridicule ourselves when we can’t seem to make them happen.

We can’t be everything at once, all the time, and for everyone.

If you’re a “perfectionist” this may initially sound like a bad thing, but it’s not! Let it free you — to open your heart, to feel the embrace of acceptance, and to truly and finally love yourself and those you care for.

Success won’t always happen on the first try.

Or the second, or maybe even the 100th try.

Some day, you’re going to try something and fail so spectacularly at it that you wish you could just pretend it never happened.

But it’s our failures that teach us what we need to know, not our successes.

You’ll start a new diet and on day 2 you’ll wolf down 5 slices of pizza. You’ll finally start writing that novel, but get off track in week two and you’ll wake up a month later wondering what happened. It doesn’t matter what you do, the odds are you’re going to make mistakes. You’ll get sidetracked. You will lose sight of your goals and your intentions.

And that’s okay. It taught you what not to do. It knocked one more thing off that grand list of possibilities — and that is a very good thing.

Success is not the same thing as perfection.

We won’t always be able to perfectly master every single thing we attempt to do. Success isn’t synonymous with perfection. Success means determination, effort, persistence… but not perfection.

The only difference between those who succeed, and those who don’t, is persistence.

All you need to do is give your best effort and what will happen… will happen.

And just like you can’t expect yourself to be perfect…

You can’t expect perfection from others.

Remember that your ideals and standards are your own. You can’t expect someone else to think and believe exactly the same things you do. Your idea of a perfect afternoon could be the exact idea of a perfect hell to someone else. Each of us has a personality and set of beliefs all our own. In your city, in your country or on your street, there might be “socially accepted norms” of how people think and what they believe, but each person interprets these norms in their own way, with their own individual spin.

One surefire path to failure is expecting others to always agree with you, to always know what you’re thinking, and to do what you want them to do.

That is a short road to pain and disappointment. It’s a road I’ve been down many times. Not once did things turn out as I’d hoped.

Acceptance is the only thing makes sense.

We have to give up this idea of perfection. Yes, we can strive to do better and be better. Yes, we can see where change needs to be made and yes we can put our best effort into making it happen.

What we can’t expect is for everything we try to always work. We can’t expect to get it all right on the first try. And we can’t expect everyone to come along for the ride with us.

By accepting your imperfections, you’re giving yourself permission to try, to experiment, to live.

And that is what makes life beautiful. That is what makes life worth all the effort.

This piece was adapted from an article I previously wrote on my blog, Un-Copied Life. If you enjoyed it, please consider “recommending” or sharing it so that others might enjoy it as well.