Let’s talk | Waiting for Perfection

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How much time in life do you spend waiting? Waiting is an inevitable act. We wait for the train to come, we wait for our coffee at Starbucks, we wait for our colleagues, we wait for our shifts to be over. Sometimes it feels like we are stuck in an endless loop of waiting, constantly putting our lives at halt and waiting for things to be over instead of just living them.
They say that people wait all week for the weekend, all year for summer and all life for happiness and I do believe that this statement is true – at least to some extent. Me being a perfectionist I am striving for one thing in particular: for life to be sorted out, for things to be finally perfect. After I left school I felt quite lost, unsure about my studies and which option was right for me. I also wished to spend some time abroad and well, that certainly required a lot of planning and with it came a huge portion of uncertainty. Between volunteering, working at home and living in the US it finally clicked and I knew what I wanted to do, maybe not with the next 50 years, but at least with the next 5.  So I started applying for university and while doing that I was simultaneously planning my next journey abroad as I had – and of course wanted to – fill the gap between January and the start of uni (in September). No, this actually isn’t a post about my life choices or about finding the right university course, it is about a misleading thought I fully felt for.
Being a perfectionist is hard and the reason for that is obvious: because perfection is simply impossible to achieve. But somehow I was still striving for it as it lies in my nature. I was thinking that once I would have finally applied for uni I would feel liberated in then things would all fall in place and everything would be perfect. Wrong. Yes, I did feel liberated in a way and I was happy that I finally knew my path but then I was nervously awaiting the universities’ replies and some other things happened and I somehow felt like my life wasn’t as perfect as I had expected it to be at the point. The same happened to me when I went travelling – I thought that now that I had everything figured out it would be easy and just a great experience with glitter and unicorns. But of course that never happened because even though I am having an amazing time in the south of France, there were moments where I just wanted to pack my bags and get on the next plane. Especially when one of the families I was supposed to stay cancelled at the last minute. This experience left me feeling frustrated and defeated but with it came a realisation that I wish had come to me a bit sooner: I finally understood that perfection is an illusion, something that is simply unachievable. And frankly, something that is hugely overrated. Even when I thought that now everything was settled and that my life was ‘sorted out’ (that somehow sounds really strange) a simple change of mind altered this plan and I was facing a new challenge.
And guess what? Nothing bad happened, I did not back my bags and went on the flight home. Instead I tried my best to find an alternative and as you might or might not know from my post about Cannes, I did. And when I managed to find another place to work at a thought emerged in my head: maybe, just maybe, imperfection and not having everything sorted out isn’t so bad after all. In the end it also leaves more space for new opportunities and spontaneity. But why do we feel like our lives have to be perfect and neatly laid out? (Please tell me it’s not just me.) Apart from the fact that structure brings a feeling of security I think that social media might be a factor. Because on social media we see a polished version of others and from the outside other people seem so put together, their lives seem to be perfect. I don’t think it’s only that, though. Nowadays most of us are striving towards self-expression and towards living a fulfilled life. And let’s be real, both of these things are incredibly hard to achieve. Just like no one is living a perfect life, no one is feeling 100% fulfilled every day. But it still seems to be the ultimate goal. And with that goal comes an amount of pressure we can’t overlook. Each day, we hear about people reaching what they have always dreamed about, we hear about people having the perfect holiday, we read tips about having the perfect skin and heck, I have even seen tips about having the perfect blog. Reading all of those tips can be amazing and motivational but at times it can also bring us down as our life somehow feels less good compared to someone else’s. And with so much (mostly good) advice floating around the internet it can be a little overwhelming at times. We hardly ever let ourselves just be instead we are searching for ways to better ourselves. And in today’s society we somehow consider that essential. Improvement is great but what if the constant urge to reach perfection leads to us being stuck, unable to fully live?
For me, that certainly happened. While I was striving for the perfectly sorted out life I lost focus and forgot to appreciate what I already had. And in a way, I put my life on halt by constantly trying to make it perfect. And having done that for almost a year I have now come to realise where my mistake lies: I believed that perfection ultimately meant happiness. So in a way I was really waiting all life for happiness. Luckily not ‘all life’ though. In the end perfection is unattainable and happiness does not depend on how perfect your life situation is, it depends on your attitude and if you make the best of a situation. So instead of running after something I will never get I’ll now focus on changing my attitude and on appreciating what is going well and what I already got in life. I want to try to let go of the idea of perfection and just go with the flow and see what happens next in life. Life will never be 100% perfect and that’s alright, we can grow with the challenges that it throws at us, cherish what we got and accept that a completely sorted out life does not exist. And in the end, it’s not about changing our life, it is about changing our attitude. And in there lies the key of happiness, I believe. So instead of continuing to await perfection, it might be wise to accept imperfection instead and make the best of it.
Are you a perfectionist? x
 
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