Why is it that we don’t expect anyone else, other than ourselves, to be perfect? And why is that we care so much about others not seeing how imperfect we are?
One of the difficult things about learning how to play the fiddle/violin as an adult student is the extreme aversion we have to making any mistakes. I find that my students are constantly slowing down, stopping, tensing up, grimacing, etc. in the vain attempt to avoid screwing up. The result of such attempts is poor tone, bad intonation, multiple mistakes, and frustration bordering on the homicidal desire to smash the fiddle over their teacher’s head.
As children, we had no expectations about being perfect. Why? Because we were perfectly happy to play and explore and to share and to interact. We lose most of that as we come socialized adults. We measure our weaknesses against others’ strengths and always find ourselves wanting. Because we can’t measure up, using the yardstick we create ourselves, we vainly attempt to hide our imperfections with various self-defeating behaviors: Rushing through life to minimize others’ exposure to our imperfections; ignoring weak spots and pretending that they don’t exist; focusing entirely on weak spots to the exclusion of everything else and refusing to let go when they have been dealt with; continually looking backwards to past mistakes, or looking forwards to possible future mistakes, rather than being fully in the present moment; and giving up entirely and becoming depressed, anxious, despondent, angry. We label ourselves as losers if we can’t live up to our idea of perfection.
“Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.” Gustave Flaubert
We are smart, intelligent, clever, and fairly well-educated human beings. We have access to all sorts of tools and techniques to conquer just about anything we can imagine. Why is it that we fall prey to our pursuit of perfection?
“When you’re passionate about something, you want it to be all it can be. But in the endgame of life, I fundamentally believe the key to happiness is letting go of that idea of perfection.” Debra Messing
It is because we believe, much like the greyhounds racing around the track chasing the mechanical rabbit, that we can catch the prize. We may win the race, but we are disappointed because we didn’t get the rabbit.
We need to chase our mechanical rabbits and be able to let go of our need to actually catch it. Chase your dreams, but don’t refuse to accept what you achieve because it doesn’t match in every detail your original dream. Be happy with success and achievement that falls short of what we were originally aiming at, and realize that we are headed in the right direction.
In the pursuit of perfection, the only thing we should expect is a perfect enjoyment of the pursuit.
As Vince Lombardi said,
“Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”
We find that imperfections in others adds to their character and personality. Why should it be any different for ourselves?
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