Why Perfection is Not Real

And 3 techniques that will free your creativity from its death-grip.

All my life I believed in perfection.

I adored perfectionists. Proudly called myself one. And aimed for it in everything I did.

Then my life flipped over upside-down.

Have you ever had an epiphany in the middle of a one-sided conversation? A conversation where you weren’t the one doing the talking? One where your epiphany felt more like a rebellion?

I had one that day. The day I realized perfection is not real.

But before I tell you more about it, let me give you some backstory…

My mother is the kind of person who is never satisfied with anything in life.

I would get 9 on 10 in class, and she would pat me on my back and say I could have done better.

I would be the highest scorer in a subject, and she would point out the marks I had lost.

In fact, there were times when I got the perfect score and she still advised me to strive for better. That fateful day was no different.

There I was, a hopeful kid with a finished project I had spent days making perfect. A kid who just wanted some appreciation and validation. A happy kid who wanted only one thing: to share her happiness with her loved ones.

Unfortunately, my mother was not equipped to give me any of that because she dashed my hopes to the ground in seconds.

That day I realized two things. My mother is unrealistic. And perfection is relative.

Photo by Dmitriy Me2dev on Unsplash

The Reason Why Perfection is an Illusion

Perfection is not real because what may be perfect to you may not be perfect to someone else.

It is nothing but a personal expression of an ideal. That’s why when you say something is perfect, it reveals more about you than about the thing you just described as perfect.

Furthermore, since perfection is a personal metric, your definition of it will change as you change with time. That’s why you always think your new haircut is perfect only to cringe later when you see your pictures in the album?

So given this illusory nature of perfection, does it mean it is useless to focus on perfection?

No, it’s not.

You just need to know how to harness it.

Photo by Bob Brents on Unsplash

3 Tips to Release Your Creativity from Perfection’s Death-Grip

The quest for perfection has killed many dreams. But it doesn’t have to if you know how to use it the right way.

1. Acknowledge your vision of perfection.

As discussed earlier, perfection is personal to everybody. So before you start your creative journey, acknowledge what perfection means to you at that given point in time.

And once you have acknowledged it, remind yourself that this definition will change with time. So stick to this vision, the one at present, and create with abandon!

2. Aim to complete.

As a writer, I know how difficult it gets when your perfectionist side takes over.

You are afraid no one will read your work. That people will find flaws in it. That trolls will emerge from the woodwork and demolish you to smithereens.

Stop right there!

Finished is better than not done.

Remember: your vision of perfection changes with time because you learn new things every single day. But if you don’t rein in this need to polish out every perceived flaw, you will only have stacks of unfinished drafts with nothing out there for the world to see.

So aim to finish first. Your future works will grow along with you.

3. Stop focusing on people’s opinions.

The entire world will never agree on anything. Know that and you will have an easier time navigating life.

Instead, focus on your vision of perfection and aim to achieve that. You will naturally attract people who are on the same wavelength as you.


What does perfection mean to you? Join the conversation by leaving a response below.

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