Imperfect Or Free?


I think we are now agreed that imperfection is a form of freedom, freedom from the pressure to become something that we are not. Freedom from the pressure to modify our lives in an attempt to achieve a goal that has often been put on us by others. What is perfection anyway?

Perfection is an ideal that will differ in various people’s minds. It is said the “one man’s meat is another man’s poison” which is a rather extreme way of making the point that we all have different aspirations in life. We all place importance in different places, different qualities. There is no “one size fits all” when it comes to what we believe to be the perfect…anything. Think, we even all have differing favourite colours so the chance of a single ‘very best’ is lost as I insist it should be green and you, well you’d want it blue and red has plenty of fans.

So why are we so susceptible to the lie of ‘perfection’?

“Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect. -And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”

Richard Bach, Jonathon Livingston Seagull

Is it that we believe that there is a place where, if arrived at, we will be the best, the most beautiful, the one others aspire to be? That people will long after us, look up to us, make us their example?

Is it all about vanity and ego?

Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order

Anne Wilson Schaefer

I can understand that a performer, an athlete, an artist will have a drive to achieve what they perceive to be perfection. To take their talents to the limit and get every drop of ability out. That they will practice over and over until every move is just right and has become muscle memory. Or the artist will come to her canvas time and again drawing on every ounce of inspiration in the attempt to create something that is their very best expression. When achieved, they will think on the result as perfect. But, listen, that perfect is a very subjective, personal thing.

Perfection, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So the commercial world sells us a story that attempts to give us a definitive example of perfection. ladies should have figures like…and hair like…and skin that looks like… You get the picture. But we don’t all like blondes, or super slim, long leggy types. And not all women want a man with a perfect body of defined muscle. No, not all those rippling muscles and tanned skin. Some want something else. So being imperfect can have its rewards.

If I waited for perfection I would never write a word.

Margaret Atwood

Being and accepting that I am imperfect frees me from a continuous pursuit of something I am not and also frees me from the persistent need to sustain perfection should I achieve it, at least in someone’s eyes. No hours lifting weights if it gives me no pleasure. No selling my life to impress others.

So get over yourself. You’re not perfect. You may possibly achieve something that will for a time be labelled ‘perfection’ but that will be by only a limited number of persons and will definitely be for a very limited time, until perfection is redefined because someone has done that thing better, faster, further or commerce needs to generate new sales and so create a new area of need that people will rush to fulfil.

The only way to happiness is to be and do the best we can. Don’t settle for less than your best. And don’t call it perfect because it won’t be. You’ll find room for improvement sooner or later. Rather enjoy your best efforts and relax in them. And don’t expect others to do more than their best. Don’t put that pressure on them. Rather celebrate with them, help them enjoy their achievements and be ready to support them when they realise they can improve still further. Be a friend.

Off now to practice my faults,

Yours, in freedom,


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