Opinion: Is it Actually Possible to be Perfect?

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Analise Bruno, Writer

I believe perfection is that little something that can be found in everything. It can be found in what we look like, what we wear, what we eat, what grades we get, how many points we earn, how many wins we get. Perfection is a concept, not even something that is tangible, but is still so highly sought after- and I’ve often wondered why that is. 

I, like many, have probably strived to be perfect at something. Maybe it’s in the sense that we have the perfect body or the perfect grades. Perhaps it’s having perfect skin, perfect hair, a perfect performance, a perfect score, a perfect smile. Or maybe it’s just being 100% perfect overall, in everything we say, think, and do. Coming from my end, I’ve noticed that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t seem to be perfect in all the ways I want to be. This got me thinking, is it actually possible to be perfect?

First, let’s look at what the word “perfect” means: “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” This definition confuses me because I can’t fathom who has the authority to define what it means to do something “as good as possible.” Who gets the right to make that judgment? Interestingly, I think it’s us. I think we are the ones who make the ultimate decision of what is perfect and what isn’t. For this reason, I don’t believe that anything will ever be good enough to be considered 100% perfect in our eyes, therefore making the concept unachievable. It took some deep thought and reflection, but I now realize it’s essentially never been about not being “perfect,” but it’s more about us not being the outstandingly unachievable version of ourselves that we have allowed to take up space in the back of our minds. 

After taking the time to self reflect, I firmly believe that no one has been or ever will be perfect. Now I don’t mean this in the sense that no one is worthy of such a sanctimonious title, but rather that the idea of being “perfect” is far too unattainable because it varies from person to person. For example, my version of a perfect test score could be different in comparison to someone else with completely different standards. I find this discrepancy in opinions to be interesting and insightful because it stands to prove that there is no clear-cut definition of perfection. 

With that being said, I can’t express the rage I feel when someone refers to someone as “perfect” because it insinuates we have turned an unachievable concept into a compliment. Though the use of that word is meant to have nice intentions, I can’t help but feel that it commends people for pushing themselves to unfair and unachievable limits. It puts the idea in our head that we’ll only be praised, accepted, and liked if we perform to the perfect standards that not only WE hold within ourselves, but also everyone else’s. It puts this heavy invisible monster on our shoulders that whispers in our ears and tells us we aren’t worth anything if we can’t meet our own expectations. Now I can’t lie, that feeling you get when you meet your standards of perfection is amazing. You feel like you’re on cloud nine, you get a great sense of pride, and for the moment, you become happy with yourself. Though I find that meeting our own goals, expectations, and ideas of “perfection” to be something, I must emphasize that it is not EVERYTHING. There are so many more important things to strive for in life rather than just reaching your ideal of satisfaction.

For such an arbitrary concept, the idea of perfection has wormed its way into the minds of so many who long to be their idea of “perfect”. I hate that our thoughts work like that because I feel that those ideas are the sole thing keeping us from our full potential. We focus so heavily on being this made up wonderful made-up version of ourselves until we lose sight of who we can actually become. I will admit, I still struggle with the thought of perfection a lot. As hard as I may try, I still do find myself comparing myself to others or wondering why I couldn’t have been better. That’s the thing with perfection, it is a concept that plagues your brain beyond the point of being curable. In a sense, I don’t think that’s horrible, because the idea of perfection can be a helpful motivator, but you mustn’t let it consume you. I think the first step in getting over this hurdle lies within realizing the only thing getting in your way is yourself. That even if we fail, or aren’t perfect 100% of the time, we are still worthy. Worthy of love, kindness, compassion, understanding, joy, happiness, everything. 

Whoever says perfection can be achieved is lying to you, because it is true that we will always push our own finish line back to boost our standards. I would emphasize focusing on being yourself even if you don’t have a perfect body, or if you fail a test, or if you miss a goal, etc. Always strive for self-growth and improvement, never perfection. So to give a clear-cut answer to my own question: No, it is not possible to be perfect. I only believe it is possible to be the best version of yourself in your own eyes. I’ve come to learn that perfection is something that remains within the eye of the beholder in the sense that only we have the power to control our expectations- so make sure yours expands far beyond being some clear-cut specialized little made-up version of yourself.

As the wise Anne Lamott once said:

“What if you wake up someday, and you’re 65, or 75, and you never got you memoir or novel written; or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because you thought your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let that happen.”