By Maria Caire

Perfection: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defect

I dislike the idea of perfection because while it is seemingly positive, I find it discouraging. The moment you label something as perfect, you give yourself permission to cease trying to get better. Perfection indicates that something or someone is without flaws and cannot be improved by any means. Therefore, that “perfect” object or being is left and remains stagnant. But the concepts of perfection constantly change with time— if that’s the case, is that thing previously deemed flawless still considered perfect?

Perfection can significantly influence self-worth. I have learned that the need to be perfect often derives from a desire to please others. For instance, if someone were to consider me perfect, I could choose to use that opinion to validate how I value myself, however my self-worth is not determined by anyone but myself. I make the decisions for my life. I am accountable for their outcomes. I do the work to achieve my ambitions. So in what ways does it benefit me to allow another person’s judgment alter my self-esteem?

It grows extremely tiring the more I work to act according to others’ standards of perfection. It is way more rewarding and empowering to act based on my standards of what is flawless. In pursuit of the perfection set out for me by others, I begin to lose myself. Of all the actions I make, few feel satisfying because I am not the motivation behind them. I am still learning that I should only aim to get better by my standards— by the goals that I set out for myself.

Permitting others’ opinions to cloud how I think of myself causes me to neglect my own inner voice: the most important one. The further I listen to what others have to say about my choices, the more likely it is that I grow to depend on it. And how long is it before I begin living someone else’s life?

More often than not, the factors about myself that I believe to be flaws are actually adored by others. There are moments in which I recognize that I am complimented on characteristics I wish most to change about myself and I realize that what I need to reshape is my mindset. How can I mold myself into someone I was clearly not meant to be? If I was meant to be the person I thought everyone else wanted me to be, I would have been.

The next time you catch yourself stressing over perfection, remember that you define perfection and that there is never a day in which you cannot get better. Aim to improve, not perfect.