As a “recovering perfectionist,” I completely understand the bittersweet relationship between passion and perfection. If you’re passionate about anything, chances are you’ve struggled–and maybe continue to struggle–with perfection.
“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.” – Edwin Bliss
I just wanted to ruin the ending for you: It’s all going to be okay.
This is a rant (albeit a positive one) about my own experience with passion and perfection. May it serve you.
Perfection Is Only Perception
As human beings, none of us are perfect. Perfection doesn’t really even exist in this world. How could it? We all have differing views, opinions, histories, stories, struggles, and personalities. One person’s idea of perfection cannot be applied to everyone’s life.
Perfection only has the meaning that we give it; it does not have meaning in and of itself. If we can practice shifting our perspective, we can learn to re-evaluate how amazing life really is, just as it is. Things don’t have to be perfect to be wonderful; in fact, they mustn’t be.
Humans are Imperfect
Humans make mistakes. Mistakes (which I fondly refer to as lessons) offer us the opportunity to forgive. Forgiveness is a divine quality that humans can embrace in order to soothe an imperfect past and live in a happier state today.
When you realize that you’re a human and thus are not required to be perfect, your identity doesn’t need to be based on anything external anymore (i.e. circumstance, achievements, outcomes, the expectations of others, mistakes). You can instead choose to base your success on the quality of your internal landscape.
As Dr. Shefali says, “Only when we fill our own need and feel satiated from within can we truly be fulfilled and happy.”
For instance, when life doesn’t seem fair, practice trusting the process of life. When you feel like you’ve messed up, be willing to let go and move forward with that teaching in your heart–not as a burden, but as enlightenment. When burdens pile up, remember your blessings. Strengthen your willingness to change your mind about how you think things should be.
Accept what is, imperfections and all, and embrace this life as if it’s exactly what your soul needs to experience.
Questions to Ask, and to Answer
Rather than crumbling under the pressure of perfection, ask yourself these things to stay on track with what really matters:
- Did I live today as my true self, expressing who I really am?
- Did I speak up today?
- Did I do what my heart told me to do rather than staying in my head?
- Was I allowed to be in stillness?
- Did I detach from all external pressures?
- Did I say yes to what brings me closer to happiness?
- Did I say no to what brings me away from happiness?
Remember to actually ask yourself these questions, and answer them.
We can have excellent standards. Setting goals and dreaming big keeps us feeling alive and connected with our passion, our inner fire, our creativity and motivation. Passion is helpful for fulfilling our purpose, which I believe is to honor our truth.
It’s the notion of perfection that takes us away from feeling purposeful in our pursuits and happy in our truth.
Our internal happiness and well-being must trump any external concept of perfection. If you’re not feeling good inside, none of your outside successes hold any meaningful or lasting weight. Reach for the stars not from a gnawing hunger that you need more to be happy, but because you are listening to your inner voice. Do whatever you do from a place of fullness and love, not from a place of scarcity and fear.
Flowing with Purpose
Should we “go with the flow” or “take the bull by the horns?” I believe life is a delicate dance of letting go of what we cannot control and holding firmly to our faith in happiness and growth. We may not have it all together, and we certainly cannot control everything around us. What we can do is our best to cultivate a positive internal landscape, one that sees the good in all that’s around us.
It’s not what you look at that matters so much; it’s what you see that counts.
Life would be pretty boring if everything and everyone was perfect. So, flow as often as you can. Don’t struggle against the current of who you are and what you believe deep in your heart to be true. Be passionate and be gentle. Be purposeful and have fun.
And so these words from Oscar Wilde ring clear in my own heart: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.”
- How do you balance passion and perfection?
- What have you learned in your own journey?
Please share any wisdom, life lessons, mistakes, inspiration, and experiences with me in the comments.
Share this post with someone who might appreciate a fresh perspective on passion and perfection.
Be true to yourself, and all will be well with your soul.