Perfectionism

I was walking home last week, absorbed in my thoughts, when I was suddenly struck by the realisation that I am not perfect, and that it no longer bothers me in the way that it used to.

I know that I have many flaws in my character and there are many ways that I could improve myself, make myself a better person yet, despite being a perfectionist and wanting to achieve the best grades and do everything as well as possible, I think I am able to accept that I am not, and never will be, perfect.

Recently, in one of my lectures, the lecturer was talking about life being a journey of learning; he related this to what Socrates once said – ‘I know nothing’ – and explained that throughout life you will keep on learning new things, growing and developing as a person, because you are never the finished product whilst you are alive.

Once, this type of discussion would have concerned me, making my constant desire for perfection seem even more unachievable than it already was but, having come to this acceptance that I am not perfect, it worries me less.

I feel that I may not be excelling and doing the best in everything that I do but I am having fun. I can volunteer and help other people which brings me joy; I can learn and study, gaining a greater understanding of new things whilst sharpening my mind to become more critical; I can learn to live with other people, to get on with them and accept that the way I want things to be is not always practical when you’re living with others; I can bake and cook and do the things that I enjoy like sewing and card-making; I am able to try new things like dying my hair and playing dodgeball as well as beginning to discover who I am.

Indeed, to get to this position I have had to go through a lot and yes, some of it was probably not necessary or truly helpful but, overall, I have learnt that I don’t have to conform to the expectations of society and that I am ok with that.

I can see that conforming to society, following the wish to fulfil its desires for perfection and achieving within the confines of its systems has, for the most part, brought me trouble. And through the depression, self-harm, eating disorder, panic and anxiety I can see that I am not, and never will be, perfect, especially because it has no set definition. Essentially, being perfect means that you, or something, is as good as it can be but can anyone directly tell you what that is? No, not really because for different people, the concept of perfect is different and it changes as what you want changes and the things that society values the most shifts. Perfection is a fluid concept which we should probably stop trying to live by. And personally, I don’t actually want to be perfect anymore either, although this is sometimes a challenge to remember when you don’t achieve the grades you want or manage to make something just how you wanted it to be.

To me, it seems that the best way to approach life is to let who you are, who you really are, shine through because, although grades and achievements will always be important to you, when you meet someone for the first time they will be more interested in your hobbies and the things you enjoy doing rather than the grades you achieved in your A-Levels or at university.

Furthermore, society itself does not just ask for grades and achievements in your career. Society asks for a well-rounded character and interesting personality, someone who has a life outside of their job and education. In some ways, it seems that we put too much value on how society sees us, what we achieve, where we have been, how we look and other materialistic things. Shouldn’t we just do the things that we want to do, not caring what other people are going to think?

God loves us and cares for us no matter what, He intended for us to have a full life and put the desires we have into our hearts. We are all children of God, His sons and His daughters, who have been made in his image and created us to be just like we are. God values us for who we are. And even more importantly, God loves us for who we are.

No, I’m not perfect, but then no one is, are they? And God doesn’t expect us to be perfect because He is the only one who actually is perfect. He knows and understands that you will fall short of perfection which is why he sent Jesus; God knew we would commit sins but didn’t want that to separate us from Him.

And I can safely say that, despite how much I longed to be perfect, life is better when perfectionism is less involved. Just trying to be reasonable, knowing that I have limits and shouldn’t push myself too far, taking breaks, resting and doing things I enjoy has made life more fun and more fulfilling. My life has a purpose, it’s interesting and I’m enjoying having the opportunity to live it in the way that I choose.

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