This week I’m talking about something that is super personal for me. Because it is something that I struggle with constantly. No matter how healthy you are, no matter how hard you try to eat a balanced diet, no matter how many hours you spend in the gym, you will probably still fail at this one thing.
You will never be perfect.
When I was a kid, I was always the last one picked for sports teams. As an adult, I pushed past my unathletic nature to participate in pilates, biking, running, ice skating, roller blading, aerial hammock and more. As a kid, I carried extra weight. Now I’ve been able to maintain a healthy weight for years. As a kid, I never let me voice be heard. Now I have a blog that is read in countries all over the world.
But when I think of myself, when I look in the mirror, sometimes I forget all of this. Sometimes the only thing that I can see when I look at myself is not where I came from, but that I’m still not perfect. And I can start to feel really down about myself when I think of the areas in my life that are still lacking.
So, I’m existing as an imperfect person in an apparently perfect world. And this can lead to mental mayhem. But the best approach to imperfection is acceptance. And how do I manage that?
Presenting: 5 Essential Steps to Survive as an Imperfect Person
Step 1: Admit that you will never be perfect. Your diet won’t make you perfect. A new job won’t make you perfect. 10 hours a week with a personal trainer won’t make you perfect. You’re destined to fail at perfection. But the good news is that you no longer need to try. Think of the free time and energy you’ll have now that you’re no longer chasing perfection.
Step 2: Your achievements are worth more than a perfect person’s. A perfect person wakes up in the morning and is already perfect. I mean, where’s the challenge and growth in that? But since you’re imperfect, your achievements really mean something. When I was a kid, I was always made fun of for being a bad runner. Lately, I’ve been going on 3-mile runs a few times a week. But if I’d been born a perfect runner, that would mean nothing. A perfect runner would probably have to run all day to score any type of achievement. Lucky me that I get to feel totally proud of myself after running only 3 miles.
Step 3: Remember that your imperfection is someone else’ aspiration – Us imperfect people can often take for granted the wins we’ve had in our lives. If something came easy to us, then it probably wasn’t valuable anyway, right? The thing about being a flawed person is that you often decide that other people’s strengths have more value than your own. But realize this. The strengths that are innate to you don’t come easily to someone else. And what you have might be someone else’ definition of perfection. Watch the world through their eyes for a moment.
Step 4: Acknowledge that your vision of the world is really a perception – We think of what we see, hear and perceive as a reality. But it is really a reflection of our own being. In my early years, I studied acting with the late, great acting teacher George Morrison. And he taught exercises using a language called percept language. These exercises allowed you to identify everything you see, hear and perceive as a reflection of your own mind. Realize that when you look in the mirror, you aren’t seeing reality, but a perception that has to do with your own past experiences. Someone else will look at you and see something very different based on their own life experiences. So if you don’t like what you see when you look at yourself, it may have less to do with your body and more to do with your mind.
Step 5: Know the areas where you are doing your best. – If you are doing everything you can, then you’ve hit your own personal level of perfection. It might not look the way you anticipated. But things are often different than we imagine. Nowthis isn’t an excuse to stop growing or give up. So ask yourself honestly if you’re doing everything you can do for a goal. Look yourself in the eye to keep yourself honest. And if the answer is yes, then you’re trying your hardest and you’ve done all you can do. What you see is your own version of perfection.
So go strut yourself into the world with your imperfect self. Because you know what it means when you’re not perfect? It means you’re unique. And honestly, what is more perfect than that?
Donna Janke says
Sometimes our desire to achieve an unattainable perfection stops us from doing truly amazing things. Good pieces of advice to be more accepting of ourselves and do the best we can.
Very well said, Donna. Think what the world misses out on when we stop ourselves in that way.
Kind of curious what your definition of ‘perfect’ is?
I think wanting to be “perfect” is like someone with curly hair wanting straight hair and vice versa. We often have skewed perceptions because we devalue what we have and put something else on a pedestal.
I am a perfectionist and it is tiring. Perfectionists rarely relax as they are seeking new ways of being perfect. They are extremely hard on themselves when a plan goes wrong, whether their own doing or not.
I am starting to slow down but the tendencies are there.
I am aware of why I am a perfectionist. As a child and teen I did not feel accepted and suffered low self esteem. I spent years disliking myself. I am trying to prove to myself far more than proving to others.
I had those same issues as a child, Phoenica. And it is tiring which is why I decided to put an end to it. I’ve taken small steps, but it really does make your world better.
Michele Harvey says
I believe that everyone and everything is perfect in the Divine sense. Evolution makes it so that all things are either functional, adaptable, or sustainable, and because of this flow that exists as all of life, and because all are a part of it, everything is showing up perfectly, at all times, for our personal growth and evolution. This may mean that we are meant to learn self-love and self acceptance when we look in the mirror, but it does not mean that things are not perfect which is only a value judgment based on past programming. It’s a rather large point in the sense that once you can accept yourself with love, even with what you see in the mirror, you can then accept the same in others.
That is a nice philosophy, Michele. Thank you for sharing.
Sabrina Quairoli says
I love that you mentioned perception. It’s so important to step back and look at what you are doing to ourselves. We are so hard on ourselves. We need to give ourselves a break. Thanks for sharing.
Honestly, that realization about perception made such a difference for me. Our brains can tell us that how we think is an absolute truth, which it is not.
I’m very accepting of my physical flaws. I’ve probably mentioned how I watched my mom diet for years and keep track of every calorie in a steno pad. That helped me decide getting too obsessed over such things was not healthy. I’ve gone to a lot of effort to like my appearance and not compare too much, especially since most images are photoshopped. On the other hand, I really struggle with being hard on myself when it comes to my intellectual side. Even though I know how to teach the writing process and edit rough work, I hate producing it myself 😉
That makes so much sense, Jeri. The funny thing is my mother dieted for years, too. However, she was really accepting of how she looked. She would say, “Oh, I have lots of friends so it doesn’t matter what I look like.” I feel bad that your mother was so hard on herself but I’m glad it was able to inspire you to be kind to yourself in a way that she couldn’t be kind to herself.
Ken Dowell says
The first thing that’s wrong with saying you are an imperfect person in a perfect world is the utter lack of perfection in the world. Maybe we can be satisfied with saying we are imperfect persons in an even more imperfect world.
That is totally the truth, Ken. I the perception of perfection isn’t accurate. But many people still feel bad about themselves because they see others as more perfect than themselves.
Erica – admit that you will never be perfect. I like that but it needs to go one step further – accept that you will never be. But then neither will anyone else you know. We are imperfect creatures in an imperfect world – that’s just the way it is and the most we can hope for is that we leave positive (and probably some crooked) footsteps as we journey through life.
Yes, there is no such thing as perfection. It can be an idea that we create in our own heads. Living in Los Angeles, I’ve met models who are insecure because they feel nobody thinks they have anything other than looks to offer. The grass is always greener on the other side and there is no reason for us to be what we’re not.
Marquita Herald says
Beautifully said, Erica! As a recovering perfectionist myself, I can relate to each of your points. For the most part, I manage those feelings today since I long ago accepted being imperfectly perfect, but it occasionally resurfaces, especially when I’m trying new things so I have to always be on guard. Thanks for the valuable advice and reminders!
I’m glad you’ve learned such self-acceptance, Marquita. And yes, trying something new can be humbling at times (but then, of course, I congratulate myself for living outside my comfort zone.)
Lovely post. Quite often I see a lot of voices being suppressed because of their ‘imperfections’. The irony however is that the suppressors are imperfect in their own way.
I was never good at anything which led to low self esteem throughout my childhood. It went on till the day I realized that imperfections are everywhere around us and we need not aim for a perfect life.
The art is to appreciate our life and turn our weaknesses in to strengths.
Good post. Enjoyed reading.
Thank you, Tuhin. And what I’ve learned from writing this is that childhood can be really hard on self-esteem. I’m glad you found self-acceptance as an adult. That is so important.
Beautifully written post. Changing our perception, changes us in so many ways. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you, Sherill. Understand perception is really so important.
William Rusho says
Wow, some of what you were writing about, seemed like I was writing it.
When I was a kid, I too was never picked on teams. I stunk at sports, although I always tried to be in them. I was a late bloomer and did not physically mature until after high school.
As for my imperfections, these are what drove me. I knew there were others who were natural gifted athletes, so I had to make up for there gifts with sheer determination on my part.
I know I am not perfect, nor ever will be, I just have to be more perfect than the other guy I am facing. Now age is taking more away, so I have to increase my efforts even more.
I know it sounds like a never ending battle, and it is, but that is what drives us to be better.
Thanks for sharing.
Wow, William. Thanks for sharing that. I would never have suspected that you overcame all of that to go into the career that you did. It goes to show that you never know where someone else came from to get where they are.
Perfectionism does not always have an external basis. My own perfectionism comes from within: it stems from a need on my part for everything in life to be a challenge, if that makes any sense to you. I bear my cross as best I can.
Spot on Erica, you hit the nail on the head!
Nobody is perfect and we will never be perfect.
Changing our perceptions, changes us in so many ways. Thanks for sharing x
This was my favorite post! I agree with you 100% perfection is not about how much we weight or how we look. Perfection is knowing that there is no such thing as perfection and that we are enough no matter how we look or how much we weight. I believe weight has to do with hour health not who we are. tweeting and pin.
leadership qualities says
Hi, I totally agree that If you are doing everything you can, then you’ve hit your own personal level of perfection, always remember that no one is perfect in this world. Just give yourself the best shot you can do and live a happy life. Thanks for sharing a very relevant post.