THE IDEA OF PERFECTIONISM KEEPS US FROM PURSUING OUR GOALS AND DREAMS
Perfectionism is certainly a word quite inter-twined with our culture. Whether it’s aiming for perfect marks, the perfect job, the perfect partner, the perfect event... perfect, perfect, perfect, perfect! ‘Varna log kya kahenge?’ i.e. what will people say?
Dress perfect, act perfect, don’t behave like a child, don’t be such a rigid grown up, don’t be this, don’t be that, beaten into every one of us from several different directions and voices, each of which is a mess of conditioned reactions, until we are no longer sure where the messages came from. In most cases, they are, or became, our own, repeated by ourselves after a point.
There is nothing quite like perfectionism and being risk-averse to get in the way of us chasing our goals. It’s that feeling of heaviness that drives us to be cautious and play it safe.
To meekly say yes to the boy/girl our parents want us to marry, when really what we want is to scream from the rooftops our intent to be celibate lifelong! That we are into our own gender or both or uninterested entirely, or to experience relationships till one is in their 30’s before deciding to settle down or any other permutations on another infinitely complex topic.
It’s what programs us to follow the paths laid out before us, and leaves us feeling like zombies, but with the dull ache of a long-forgotten wish somewhere within us, just out of reach, and maybe it will be a topic we bring up with our 60 something brethren when are old, isn’t it? We dreamt once, of doing things. But we won’t do them.
We won’t do them because we are thinking in all or nothing terms. We either succeed, go big, or we crash and are ostracized, ridiculed.
We either make bank, or end up on the streets.
Either, or, either, or, ad nauseam.
We have forgotten, how to celebrate the tiny victories, the steps that none ever notice but are part of every great effort.
Those abs weren’t made in a week, and those of us who have them know we probably didn’t look pretty in the process of getting them.
That visionary who hosts art galleries with her subversive content? She started out doodling stick figures.
The snappy writer with the new trilogy that just finished and is about to be made into a movie series? She keeps a stack of rejection letters that number well over a 100.
But let’s leave aside the topic of ‘dreams’. Perfectionism can get in the way of simple learning, of friendships and family, love and all things life in general.
We can’t learn maths if we are scared of getting the problem wrong on the first try, we can’t date if we fear being rejected as soon as we ask someone out nor make friendships without approaching people, we never learn where our true abilities lie if we don’t get out and explore things we haven’t done before.
Let’s do ourselves a favour.
Let’s assign a percentage of success to our actions. Out of 100. The next time we fall short, instead of considering it an abject failure, let’s see if we can derive some benefit from it. Perhaps it was a 60/100, perhaps a 40/100 for the effort itself.
The effort counts, we have simply forgotten it does. And failure is part of every path, we need it to grow. Let’s learn to accept it in a healthy way!