Some life lessons, or aha moments, trickle slowly into your awareness over time, and some are more like a flash storm that seems to come out of nowhere but leaves you drenched to your core. My aha moment with perfectionism was more like the latter.
I remember the day very clearly in my mind, even though it was 10 years ago. The day it hit me that it was my perfectionism, not the circumstances around me that caused my suffering. I realized that my expectation and obsession with things being perfect was keeping me from enjoying my life as it was in the moment (and my life is pretty awesome). I was missing the beauty and blessings of my life because I had this picture in my mind of what things “should” be like. Holding onto that picture of perfection meant I couldn’t see all the brilliance right in front of me. My worship of perfection was making me miserable, keeping me from being present to my life and those I loved.
In the video below, I talk more about the day I had this aha moment.
Now, I am certainly not saying we shouldn’t aim for excellence or that we shouldn’t stretch, grow, learn and expand. Of course, we can challenge ourselves to do, to dream, to grow to be more than we are in this stage in our lives. To challenge ourselves to move out of our comfort zone is healthy and what keeps life interesting and builds self-esteem. However, there is a huge difference between wanting to excel and to grow vs. trying to be perfect. From my experience, it is actually the imperfect situations of my life that have been the most fruitful in terms of personal growth and realization and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, if you have been or are currently chasing perfection, consider this:
There is no such thing as perfect; it is an illusion.
If you are an ever-changing, growing, evolving, expanding person (which I hope you are) then your version of perfect will change as you grow. The ‘perfect life’ that I would have envisioned for myself when I was in my 20’s is nothing like what my life is like today (thankfully).
You will never catch perfection. This is good news! When you let go of being perfect or your life being perfect, you can be open to all the beauty, and amazement that surrounds you in every moment.
If you think, “I’ll be happy when…”, “I’ll do the things I want to do with my life when …” always waiting for the ‘perfect time’, you will spend most of your life miserably unhappy.
You will never be perfect, things will never be perfect… you will just have to settle for amazing, incredible, beautiful and inspiring.
“When we let go of being perfect, we can settle for just being amazing.” -nyk danu