The sorry little truth about perfection is that there is no such thing. Perfection is a myth, a fantasy, and a lie.
If I asked you to think about your perfect day would you say that it would be a relaxing day at the beach with your family, a hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon, or a day sitting on the couch watching old movies?
The definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary is:
•having no mistakes or flaws
•completely correct or accurate
•having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.
But who sets this standard of WHAT is a flaw or mistake, what is correct or accurate, or having what qualities for a person to have? I believe that math and measurement can be perfect because it is a fact that 2+2 will always equal 4. But with subjective opinionated topics like what makes a perfect dessert, wife, child, gymnast, beam routine, student, car, or anything else for that matter there is no such thing as perfect.
For the past twenty years I beat myself up trying to be perfect. It all started with wanting to be a perfect gymnast, then it carried over to wanting to be a perfect wife, mother, friend, student, coach, and of course have the perfect body, hair, and skin. And my life was exhausting and depressing.
It was depressing because every time I found myself NOT living up to MY standards, I felt that I had failed. I felt that I couldn’t do anything right. And that was such a sad place to live. I realized that only I had the power to make me feel inadequate. I also had the power to embrace my accomplishments.
In the sporting world first place is the only place. The sporting world doesn’t really care how much effort, hard work, and sacrifices you have made to get third place. They don’t remember who won third place, advertisers only want winners to promote their products, and technically if you didn’t win…you lost. But in the real world, the world where the real people realize how hard it is to do gymnastics let alone make it to the Olympics, they appreciate the hard work and sacrifices. They appreciate the struggle. They want to hear the stories and they want to learn the secrets. And after years of real people telling me how great the accomplishment of third place was, I finally started to believe it. I let myself feel inferior and I had bought into the lies. I had this preconception that if my medal wasn’t first place then it had no value; then I had no value.
Perfectionists seem to have this uncanny ability to make everything black or white, good or bad, with no gray area. But it’s in the gray area where life happens.
I started to appreciate that even though my career wasn’t perfect…it was good enough. And it was all I had. I had to embrace my career and learn to love it. And from that point on, I started looking at all the great things in my life. I learned how to laugh at my dirty floors and burnt dinners. I learned that when I did something or said something that was wrong I wasn’t a failure…I was just wrong and that was OK. I have learned to pat myself on the back when I do something good and l learned to forgive myself when I make a mistake.
Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to be the best in EVERYTHING I do. It is my nature, but I have stopped striving for an unattainable standard of perfection.