Perfection is a Death Sentence
Nothing about my life is perfect.
But you wouldn’t know that from scrolling through my Facebook and Instagram pages. Whenever I post pictures of my kids, for example, my Instagram blows up with likes and positive comments. What they don’t see, however, are the tears, tantrums, and everyday drama that go along with having two, soon to be three, young kids (not that I’d trade it for anything in the world).
But what I put out for the world to see is only, maybe, 2% of my life.
You may think that’s disingenuous, but crafting an online persona is really like playing a video game. On social media, people can create an avatar, a perfect representation of themselves that is more attractive, more interesting, and wittier than its real-life namesake. This is how they interact with the online world—from the lens of this character they have created from only the pieces of themselves that they want others to see.
It isn’t real life. In real life, I’m a goofy guy. I’ve gotten bullied for it, but I’m still the guy who belts out N*SYNC when I’m in the car with my wife (much to her chagrin).
It’s not the entire picture, but it’s not supposed to be, and that is where we get confused. We take this game too seriously and try to live up to a perfect, and nonexistent, ideal.
People spend over 2 hours per day on social media, and it’s screwing with our perception of what’s real. So, in the interest of doing my part to lift that veil, I want to share what I’ve learned from embracing imperfection.
3 Great Things that Happen When You Acknowledge that Perfection is Impossible
1. People Like You More
Honestly, people don’t want perfect. Perfect is boring. Don’t believe me? I’ll take an example from advertising.
In 2004, Listerine premiered a commercial that owned up to its own flaws. While a man swishes the mouthwash and looks visibly pained, a disembodied narrator urges him on: “C’mon. Just 30 seconds of Listerine twice a day. That’s all it takes. Sure, it’s a little…intense. But think of all the germs you’re killing!”
When you admit your flaws, people like you more. It’s an established psychological principle called the Pratfall Effect. You actually distance yourself from others when you portray an image of infallibility. It’s why the “adorkable” people, like Chris Pratt (more like Chris Pratfall, amiright?) and Zooey Deschanel (you’ll be glad to know I don’t have a pun for her name), are so popular. Flaws are what make people interesting.
2. You Stop Comparing Yourself
I’ve lived by the motto of, “While everyone is trying to fit in, I’m just going to do me and stand out.” I don’t focus on a single other person. I don’t care what they have, how successful they are. It’s irrelevant to me.
But that wasn’t always the case. I look back and think, “Could I have left that job sooner? Could I have gone out on my own earlier than I did?”
A piece of me is held back because of other people in life, people who want me to follow a prescribed path, people who want me to fit into what everyone else is doing. I can tell you from experience, it can be a lonely road going against tradition and creating your own path.
But it’s worth it. When you stop comparing yourself to others, you are free to do what gets you excited. Whatever your passion may be, just go. Don’t think, just go.
When you embrace this idea, you are free to define your own view of success. You aren’t bound to follow the path that others are taking. You are your own person with your own dreams, desires, and demons.
3. You Do Your Best
It’s ironic that one of the best things you can do to get you closer to perfection is to acknowledge that it doesn’t exist. Think of it this way: How many times have you had an idea for a business or a book or a project, but when you started to put your plan in motion, you froze? Maybe you started to think of all the things that could go wrong. Maybe you decided that you didn’t have the skills to execute your vision.
Chasing perfection is setting yourself up for failure. Ask yourself: What in your life is perfect? Since when did we start caring so much about being absolutely perfect? Is your relationship perfect? Probably not, but you love your significant other and tackle the challenges that come at you both on a regular basis.
And you know what? Something fantastic happens when you stop chasing perfection: You do your best.
If you have an impossible task, guess what? DO IT! Work hard, even if you only complete 84% of what you set out to do, it’s better than the 0% you’d have otherwise. You will find out that we, as humans, are capable of so much, and the idea of perfection only keeps us from achieving our true potential. So, stop quitting and selling yourself short because of your flaws. Stop trying to be perfect. Leave all that on Instagram.
If I could sum up this advice in a few sentences it would be this: You’re not perfect. That’s great! Now get out there, and do your best.
It’s really as simple as that.