The myth of perfection

Early on in my interview-ingenue days, I remember getting tips on how to prep for all. the. hard. questions. And I remember people telling me the pat answer to the classic, ‘what is your biggest weakness’ being some sort of perfectionism confession. (I’m too detail oriented, I get too wrapped up in trying to get it right, I never know when to say ‘good enough’). It seemed like a fine idea at the time. I did consider myself a perfectionist. I always wanted everything exactly right, in every sphere of my life.

But now, as the person now doing the hiring, I can tell you how crap these formula answers really are. The people across the table just want to hear the truth – good, bad and ugly. Second, though, I can tell you that I have, finally, once and for all, learned to let go of my perfectionist ways. The truth is that ‘perfect’ – in work and in life – just doesn’t quite exist.

Life is messy. It is mean. On many days, it is not what you signed up for. But then, on other days, it is much more. I have been coming to this realisation over the past several years, as I begin to experience life at its fullest (and sometimes crappest), following nearly three decades of a charmed existence that did not force me to face these realities. A more perfect union? No, your marriage will not be. It might be a more better union, but there are not degrees of perfection (just a grammar peeve) and even if there were, you’d be lucky to reach the penultimate peak, much less the pinnacle. And it is only when you can let go of the myth of perfection, I believe, that you can start to accept the wonderful and good that comes instead.