P is for Perfect



Hahaha! You actually thought I was going to write about being perfect? There is no way I could ever write about something which I am not. It would cause too much of a disconnect in my brain. The cognitive dissonance would overload my system and I’d end up in a perpetual state of mindless terror. Better to write about mistakes. I know lots about those.




I remember getting back my standardized testing in elementary school. Several years I achieved the 99%tile in all subjects. Though I thought the tests were easy, I grew to love the accolades. Yet, in the back of my mind, I always wondered why I never achieved the perfect score of 100%? It frustrated me to know I was not perfect.

I remember one year in school when I was NOT placed in the top Reading group. I knew that the teacher made a mistake because I had always been in the top group and panicked at the thought of not knowing my place. Luckily, the invitation of “prove it to me” was a challenge I could achieve and though I languished in the second-highest Reading group for several months, I was finally able to prove that I was so much closer to perfect than the adults understood.

I remember raising my hand as a child when I thought I knew the answer, only to discover I was wrong. Why would I do that? I thought I knew the answer. I soon learned (or felt, perhaps) that I was wasting others’ time along with showing everyone that I was not smart enough to know the answer. I soon learned to only raise my hand when I was sure. Then, I would be closer to perfect.

I remember asking lots of questions in school.  I had some (okay, dozens of) connections going on in my brain that felt like they needed to leap out in order to help others see what I was seeing and understand my thoughts. I thought I was being helpful and demonstrating my smarts. That would show others how perfect I was. I soon learned that asking questions was meant only for the focus at hand and by making connections, I was distracting others. Instead, I clearly showed that I had no knowledge of the correct answer. I wasn’t gaining on perfect, I was losing ground.



As time went on, I teetered back and forth between aiming for perfection or languishing with its twin sister, procrastination. Where perfection wasn’t achievable, I settled for the evil sister. One was golden, one was not. I could be perfect (or so I imagined), if given enough time or motivation, but other times, I gave up before I even started. Most of my misconceptions about perfection came about because I was never taught the value of mistakes.


Mistakes are not the opposite of perfection.

Mistakes are the footholds on the way to achievement.


Perfection is not the goal we should be chasing. Instead, we should be touting mistakes as the path to greatness. With mistakes, we lose perfection, but we gain many more worthy values like compassion, determination, motivation, and the satisfaction of a valiant effort. The battle cry we hear from a valiant knight is not spoken in the aim of perfection, but instead to show the courage to try even when we fear we will fail. Less than perfection is our destiny. Our path to greatness does not exist in being perfect, only in failing to try to be our own best selves.





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