There is nothing quite like the feeling of relief you experience when you realize you will never be perfect. It’s a weight lifted and your lungs seem to expand more when you breathe. It’s like being reborn and getting to just be, which is all any of us should really strive for.

a purple coneflower up close, with the tips of the petals slowly turning brown and the text "The Absolute Joy of Knowing You Will Never Be Perfect"

Perfectionism is suffocating. And the sooner you rid yourself of it, the easier it is to do what you want to do in life.

To me, perfectionism is a party where everyone is there and pretending to enjoy themselves. “Isn’t this just the best?” you hear someone ask. You nod. You don’t really feel that way. But it’s a party, and small talk is what is required of you, not truth.

So you wander around, the room glowing and bright, so many smiling faces and so many people that it feels like there isn’t enough air. The music is too loud and the drinks are too sweet.

You know you need to step outside and collect yourself, and then you can come back in.

But the second you step outside, the cool night air washes over you, a cleansing chill. You breathe it in deep. It feels crisp and clear. That coolness starts to chip away at the suffocating warmth you felt in the party, like a wave lapping against the grains of sand on the shore, slowly pulling away layers and layers that have built up over time.

You realize then that you can’t go back into the party.

You walk away into the night, just you and all the others who have wandered away over the years. It’s time to make a party where you can actually have fun.

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You Will Never Be Perfect…

At our core, we all know we’ll never be perfect. Maybe you were the best at a thing once in your life, but how big was the pool of contestants? Were you the best in the world?

Probably not.

You will never be perfect because there are too many variables to account for. You will never be perfect because you actually were never meant to be.

Many of the “you will never be perfect” quotes try to focus on what you are in that moment. And that’s fine. I think it’s important to be reminded that you are enough and that you have inherent worth.

But I also think it’s important to celebrate imperfections with reckless abandon.

When you fall in love with someone, it’s not with the things about them that make them blend in. It’s their crooked teeth, or the weird way they pronounce a word, or how they can’t hold their silverware like an adult.

Think about the chips in the china you inherited from your grandmother. Think about the sturdy kitchen table with the weird burn mark on it from that one time you set a casserole dish on an ill-conceived potholder. Think about the hole in the knee of the jeans you got when you went to that music festival and finally got to see your favorite band.

Those little nonconformities and imperfections are what make things and people special. If everything were the same sort of off-the-rack, mass-manufactured mess, you’d hate it.

You will never be perfect because perfection makes you unlovable.

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…But You Will Get Better

So, it’s good to think about how our imperfections will make us lovable. For example, as a writer, I’m heavy handed AF. Do I have two ham fists just hitting keys like I’m grinding axes?

You bet.

And while that is something that some people like about my work, I know I can get better.

I will always have axes to grind. I will always come to the keyboard like I’m starting a war. I don’t know if I can write any other way. But the more I do write, the better and more precise my work becomes.

I will never be perfect, but I can be better.

So, even though I’m happy to be imperfect, I know that honing those imperfections will do more for me in the long run. And shoot, I ain’t gonna stop writing. So, the more I write, the better I get.

I’ll never be a perfect writer, but I don’t have to be. I’m just out here taking imperfect action every single day.

Done Is Better Than Perfect

One of my favorite affirmations for perfectionism is done is better than perfect. Perfect is unattainable, so as long as a project I’m working on is done, I know it’s better than perfect because perfect will never happen.

And, for what it’s worth, perfect is the enemy of good. Because the longer you work toward perfection, struggling to attain the impossible, the further you will come from actually making something good.

Imagine a hairdo, if you will. You want your hair to look perfect for an upcoming event. And while you’ve had some pretty choice hair days in your past, you also know that when you want your hair to do something, it will not cooperate.

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So, carefully, you push the bounds of your hair. You do it like normal, all the products and routine. But you notice there’s one hair out of place.

So you fix it. Only, it messes something else up. You think maybe you could just do a little trim, but adding more product seems more prudent.

You play this game for a while, and when you’re done, you have a helmet of overly gelled hair on your head and you look like a freak.

You hair was good before. But perfection was attempted, and now you’re so far from good that you may as well wash your hair again.

Now, replace hair in that example with your current creative project. Are you editing it within an inch of its life, to the point where it no longer resembles the thing you were trying to create?

Did you sacrifice the whole of the project to make each individual part perfect, only to step back and realize you’ve created something that just kind of sucks?

Remember those imperfections. They are what make people fall in love.

And the sooner you walk away form the perfect party, the sooner you can have that love.

2 Responses

  1. I’m always grateful for a blog post to remind me to step out of that perfection mode I often find myself in. I’m getting better at managing it finally. Also, your description of the party and stepping out into the cool night? The accuracy of that… 💯

    1. It’s crazy how much perfectionism can feel like a suffocating party! And I always need a reminder to step out of perfection mode. It’s so sneaky how my brain tries to stay there…

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