Perfectionism is a straight up scam. A farse. Fake news.
So I'm quitting it, cold turkey.
Well, as cold turkey as I can get because even now, I'm struggling to write this. Because it has to be perfect. The irony is real.
I've given a lot of thought to the perfectionism issue because I'm just one of many victims that fall prey to it. It's insidious, with the shiniest of exteriors — what could go wrong with perfect, right? However "perfect" isn't the issue because, as it turns out, ✨we are the problem✨
The age old "human condition" strikes again, which is why we shouldn't aim to be perfect, but to be better than we were the day before as we all run our own race. In order to do that, we need to embrace imperfection. It's the only way we can ever hope to find the peace and freedom to become our very best selves.
Perfectionism exists in many forms, one form of which is in season; the infamous new year's resolutions. It's not surprising to see people fall off the wagon within two weeks of January first because the expectation that the "new year new me" mindset is going to carry them through the year is not sustainable.
A "fresh start" doesn't actually exist, so expecting it to help you become the best possible version of yourself is a trap. The path to self-improvement based on a "fresh start" promises immediate results and lasting change with little effort. I'm not against self-improvement, however. (If you're new here, read some of my older posts lol) I'm not even against new year's resolutions, it's great to have goals. But there has to be an understanding that we never actually get a fresh start because we all start from experience. A fresh start mindset doesn't take into account your bad habits or the version of yourself that you're trying to change; your gluttonous-holiday self, your last-January self, your toxic-traits self. It's all brought into your fresh start; those bad habits took time to form, and it will take time to break them.
It's healthy to expect mistakes, but only when you give yourself the grace to learn from them — mistakes are not true failures, neither is a lack of motivation or not being able to meet your goals with your all, every day. Quite frankly, that's also very exhausting and not sustainable. The only way you truly fail is when you dwell on your mistakes and give up entirely. It's why the diet never lasts beyond Monday, why studying is still hard this semester, and why a gym membership isn't used beyond the first session.
Perfectionism is relative, therefore, it can be selfish and manipulative. This is simply realized when we ask random people on the street what their perfect afternoon would look like. Who is one person to tell another that "perfect" only exists as reading a book on the couch, when the other's "perfect" is spending time with their kids? The "perfect" pizza for a vegetarian would definitely be different than the person who regularly orders a meat lover's. Perfect is relative, therefore, it does not exist.
This is why it s u c k s. We are digging our own graves, killing our motivation and creativity with an expectation we've set for ourselves based solely on preference. It's the perfect poison. (Pun is so intended.)
You could argue that it does exists but only in the relative sense and that there's a word for it, so I guess, yeah sure, it does. But doesn't that defeat the whole idea of perfect? Isn't it supposed to be, by definition, a universal standard?
Philosophy aside, perfectionism is a burden. There is no grace in it, no peace, and no room for growth. It's a breeding ground for pride and anxiety, driven by the unnecessary pressure and panic of "getting things right" all the time. We weren't designed for this panic. God did not make us from dust and bone for us to run around like headless chickens, worrying and trying to get things perfect, as if God hasn't already done all of the work for us. We are fallible, and will never live up to "perfect." Without imperfections, there is no need for grace. And with no need for grace, what did Jesus die for?
I don't expect that with this epiphany I've had, I'll have all of this mastered going into the new year — that would be duplicitous of me and deliciously ironic. But I do know that making the decision to let go, let God, and to refuse participating in "perfect" I already feel unburdened. So, I urge you dear reader, to unburden yourself, and find peace by embracing imperfection. Peace is a bond and it ties us together in humility because of our shared understanding of the inevitability of mistakes. You free yourself from weighty expectations, and assumed responsibility and control that you don't actually have when you tell perfection "no." Imperfections are what make life so much sweeter, more authentic, more gracious. That is why I am a proud imperfectionist.