What is it to be the perfect boss? Mate? Friend? What is it to have the perfect life? Hobby? Career? What is it to attain perfection at all?
For many questions, simple answers just don’t suffice. The idea of “perfection” is at once both extremely abstract and yet right in front of all of us. I’m sure everyone reading this entry has thought about their “perfect” job or “perfect” home, for example. There are so many different sides to the idea of perfection, I think that in and of itself makes achieving a conceptual perfection impossible.
I could easily list traits I would consider crucial for the “perfect friend.” Things like compassion, understanding, a willingness to listen, and spirit of adventure. I could spend the rest of my life polishing those and similar qualities, but that wouldn’t make me anyone’s perfect friend. We can’t conceive, not fully, what someone else would call perfect, or what they need in their lives. Heck, it’s almost impossible to do for ourselves.
If someone were to give you two hours to design your perfect home, could you really do it? What about a full day? There are so many conscious and unconscious questions to answer, I doubt any of us could truly approach “perfection” even given a week to work on it. We might surely come close, but there’ll always be something that just didn’t work, or could work better.
When it comes to trying to be a good person, for many years I fell into the trap of trying to be perfect (and failing miserably at every step). There wasn’t room for debate or shades of grey in my view – a good friend has these qualities, a good leader these priorities, a good teammate these attitudes. I should have spent that time, that energy, working on how to be a better me.
Self-improvement may be alluring because we all want to reach our ideal or “perfect” selves, at least on some level, but I think it too often goes unstated that the pursuit itself, the incremental steps, those are real successes. Those should be celebrated, revered, and rewarded. Falling short of attaining perfection isn’t only human, it’s also inevitable. Let’s not treat it as a failing.
Maybe on my journey I’ll manage to do that for myself, too.
A big thank you to Caitlin who suggested this topic!