Lessons from the Imperfect

So often in our lives we seem to strive for perfection. We want to be the best at something and we want everyone else around us to see and acknowledge us for our accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with celebrating your accomplishments. All the power to celebrating full out for the thing you worked countless hours on mastering.

What we forget to point out to ourselves, when we look with envy and compare our riches to that of the ones who seemingly succeeded, are the countless lessons, potential failures, and re-tries that this person has encountered along the way.

Our society has the tendency for us to point to the end results and put the perfect image in front of us of something that we should emulate. “Look at this perfect parent” or “why can’t you be like so and so’s kid”. Better yet, when our parents sneak into the conversation that the neighbors’ kid we used to play with is now a world famous (fill in the blank). There is nothing more demotivating than being held against the perceived standards of perfection.

It is even more interesting to me that often the person who is perceived as being perfect might be put under just as much pressure as the person, who is asked to be more like them.

In both scenarios we are elevating a story that we have created around a certain behavior or material possession, above the journey of both the person, who has what seems perfect and the person we are pressuring to imitate that perfection.

Have you ever been around the couple that everyone just decided to label as “perfect”? They have everything anyone could ever want and they are an example for the people around them. No one could ever imagine them being anything else but together. This makes it hard on the couple that is being adored, because there is no room for them to mess up. They are put on a pedestal and are asked to uphold the perfect image that others need to strive toward. But if the couple isn’t allowed to indicate that they too have their struggles along their journey, the people aspiring to be like them will always seemingly fail to become like them, as the image of their perfection does not portray the reality of their story.

So what we are aspiring to have is not actual perfection, but a distorted image that we perceive as perfection. Phew, that just seems super complicated and totally messed up.

What if instead of making up stories of the perfect end result, we taught our kids and adults that there is so much to learn from the struggles and breakthroughs of the people around them? What if we would not make it a taboo to discuss our failures and shortcomings, not to wallow in them and get stuck where we are, but to learn from the people, who have found a way to utilize their gifts in overcoming them or creating something new and beautiful as an end result? Why live in a world, where you either succeed or fail? Why not live in a place, where we celebrate each person for their individual gifts and their commitment to utilize them for the greater good?

When we strive for perfection, we exclude the things that make us uniquely us and instead put ourselves into constant comparison with others. What we create is a fear around not having or being enough.

When we acknowledge and learn from others imperfections and how they too fall down and get up again, then we will learn to be inspired. We are then more freely allowed to look at our own shortcomings and share knowledge and experiences in how to overcome them. We could then have a community of people, who understand and have been there, rather than competitors who we have to outcompete to win in the game of perfection.

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