“Have no fear of perfection—you’ll never reach it,” Salvador Dali. When I look over the course of my life in the context of this quote, I feel a sort of melancholy. It’s simultaneously an acceptance that all is as it should be (and went how it was supposed to) and a sadness over time lost. That is where it gets a bit bitter. My head gets caught in the time lost, because I spent YEARS of my life trying to be perfect, always trying to make the right decision and do the right thing, always searching for the thing that would get me where I wanted to go the fastest. I feel sad because there is always that, “If only it went this way, it would have been fine,” all while knowing I can’t change anything about the past.
I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. But I also know the lesson I’m supposed to learn is that even if things aren’t perfect, they are perfect how they happen. That gives me some level of comfort to reframe that I did the best I could with what I had and with what I knew. Yes, it’s painful knowing things could have been different but I also take comfort in knowing they CAN’T be. Nature takes care of itself and if it was meant to go any other way, it would have. So the sooner we develop an understanding that perfection is an illusion regardless of the standard we set, the sooner we will be able to move through life content that our best is enough. We are taught that perfection makes us worthy because society wants us to forget that we are perfect as is.
As sick as it is, I love that Dali puts fear and perfection together—because the fear isn’t about being perfect, it’s about being “kicked out” because we aren’t perfect. We’ve always had this expectation of outward perfection in society and the fear is that if we aren’t perfect, we aren’t worthy of acceptance. So when we learn that it’s unattainable anyway and we KNOW that everyone is inherently flawed, we suddenly realize that perfection is a myth. It’s so much easier to go through life knowing we aren’t meant to be perfect—we are meant to live. And life is messy, but that is exactly what it’s meant to be. Creation isn’t clean and we are always creating something.
So take the pressure off and don’t shoot for perfection—just go for what is you. Go for authenticity and fun and what brings you joy. Because your joy will inspire more creation that perfection ever could. Setting an unattainable goal makes it that much easier to give up on it when it isn’t turning out how you thought it would. But when we set our sights on what is right and what we know is true for us, it is much easier to stick with it and be proud of those results. Authenticity beats perfection any day.