I have a confession. I am an aspiring perfectionist. I may always have been, and might always be.
I have long struggled with a deep desire for perfection.
I am not going to try to convince myself, or you, that perfection does not exist. I know perfection is a fabrication of my mind, however emotionally a desire still exists for it. Or for something that the idea of perfection might be a proxy for.
As I now build the courage to reflect about my reality, I find myself curious to better understand why. Perhaps with a greater understanding, I may learn to make peace with this long standing imperfection, to desire perfection.
My desire for perfection may be from a place of fear.
Am I scared of feeling not good enough? If so, then it makes sense to strive for perfection, as I leave little space for feeling not good enough. Fear is a powerful, if not the most powerful, source of motivation for humans and animals.
Why might I be scared of feeling not good enough? Well, I believe that it is one of the most emotionally unpleasant feelings one can experience. To avoid this unpleasant feeling, I do everything I can to avoid it. Unlike popular belief, we are not logical beings who sometimes experience emotions. Rather, we are emotional beings, who use logic to explain our emotions.
The solution here is clearly not for me to continually strive for perfection. It is for me to learn how to be comfortable with the feelings that arise when I feel not perfect. To get intimate and closer to my emotions. To learn to heal, versus hide.
My desire for perfection may be from a place of identity.
The desire for recognition and acknowledgement. Taken to the extreme, a desire to be famous and known by others and seen in a positive light.
The fear of judgement and criticism from others, or even myself. Taken to the extreme, all of my choices are to avoid attention. I then over time, avoid making choices altogether.
Social media has created more space for a dynamic that has long existed in communities and tribes. It is when one falls victim to living their life through the eyes of how it will be seen by others, versus what their heart truly desires.
To be driven by how I am seen by others, or even myself, is a never ending battle.
The solution here is to uncover and connect with my authentic self, and allow me to shine through. The key here is to do this regardless of how I might be perceived or received by others, including myself. Once I know myself, and accept myself, I can trust that I will be accepted by those around me.
My desire for perfection may be from a place of possibility.
A sense of optimism, a curiosity for what might be possible. Upon seeing what does not yet exist, I feel flooded with inspiration to uncover what might be. To ask “why not?”. Well, there is only one way to find out. I am motivated to take action. Possibility becomes a source of fuel along the journey to try and live a better life.
This is an admirable quality, to be driven to achieve perfection because I believe it might just be possible. However, it comes with a cost. To be driven continuously can be a recipe for feeling burnt out, tired and taken to the extreme, discouraged. It also comes with the risk of being discouraging to those around you, by always focusing on what could be better and failing to recognize and acknowledge the good that is.
The solution here is to start with accepting what is, versus skipping straight to action of what might be. From a place of acceptance, I can understand what is working and what is not working. My actions are now grounded in reality.
My desire for perfection is like absolutely everything in life. It is always changing and yet, it is in complete balance in every moment.
On one hand, this desire comes with the risk of feeling dissatisfied continuously. On the other hand, this desire brings the benefits from the new, the more and the better.
My desire for perfection is not good, nor is it bad. It is what it is, and a part of how I move through life.
In the face of feelings of dissatisfaction or discontentment, I now understand why. In the face of a full life filled with optimism and experiences, I also now understand why.
With this understanding, I can begin to flow with a little more ease and a little less friction (and frustration).
I now appreciate how my desire for perfection continues to shape me, and my experience of life. It no longer needs to be a struggle.