Why I Don’t Believe in Perfection

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My math teacher in middle school said if you can draw a perfect circle free-handed, you might be a little crazy. That’s when he busted out the compass and showed us this nifty tool you can use to draw a perfect circle.

I could never draw a circle anywhere close to perfect.

I also colored, but never perfectly in the lines.

In art class, my art teacher always admired by ability to paint abstract art, but she was so focused on teaching me technique. Ways to draw perfectly.

In music class, I loved to sing, but I was no Streisand. So when I auditioned for parts in the school play, I usually got a small role or ended up in the chorus. My music teacher wanted me to sing, but sing just a little more perfectly.

In English class, I was always the first to write a good story. But my grammar was terrible and I read very slow. “You’re no Shakespeare,” one English teacher joked. I could write a great tale, it seemed, but not as perfectly as the masters.

As an only child, you strive for perfection. You are pretty much the only one to represent the family name so you know it has to be the best it can possibly be.

All my life, I have kept a stiff upper lip, got out there and did the best that I could do. And sometimes I fell down, and sometimes it wasn’t perfect, but I always stood up and did it all over again.

My parents, the two most amazing people in my life, have never given up on me. And no matter what I did, they responded with wise words, encouragement, and love.

And I think because of this, and through my own personal growth, I have come to reject the word perfect.

Two years ago, I took a job where I had to be a copy editor for a company. All day I would hunch over piles of papers, skimming through every word, every comma, every line.

When I interviewed for the job, the boss, a balding man with thick round glasses, leaned over his desk and asked me, “How do you ensure excellence in everything you do?”

It was a weird question.

He continued, “Because we pride ourself in excellence in this department. Everything we release is perfect and we would like to continue this tradition. A tradition of excellence.”

I found out quickly that he and I did not see eye to eye.

What he was talking about was not excellence or perfection, it was control.

The restrictive environment I worked in for the next few months was not only repressive and anxiety producing, but worse, it was soul crushing.

I realized that although I answered his interview question the way he wanted me to: “Yes, I believe in perfection and working hard to uphold excellence”; I had lied to him and I had lied to myself.

The truth is, I believe in the IMPERFECT.

I believe that imperfection is beautiful.

I like the sloppy circles.

And I like the art that’s just a little outside of the lines.

I like the quirky old lady with pink hair singing off tune in the back of a bus.

I like words like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

I like nonsense, and giggles, and Sunday morning cartoons.

I don’t like rules and I don’t like lines.

I don’t like people who think they’re perfect.

Because nobody is perfect. There’s really no such thing.

And the closest thing you can get to perfection is to reject it.

And start living your life the way you were meant to live it………..

without a compass.

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