Perfectionism rears its ugly head at the weirdest times. At least for me. I have tried very hard for the last 15 years or so to let that part of me go. I know striving for perfection can only lead to frustration and, in severe cases, depression. At the very least it can lead to an increase of anxiety and stress.
But as hard as I try, I find myself thinking bad about what I do when something doesn’t turn out the way I think it should. You know, perfect. I tend to compare my work to what others do and become embarrassed about giving others sub par work.
In this instance, it was my wrapping skills. I’ve known how to wrap a present since I was a kid. It was something my mother knew how to do exceptionally well so she taught me how to do it too. It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing. There’s something so festive about wrapped presents.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned, though, in my short time on this Earth it’s that no matter how well I do something there will always be someone who can do what I do. And most of the time they will do it better than me. That is why perfection is a destructive delusion.
Or lie, if I’m being blunt.
Think about it, if achieving perfection was possible then there wouldn’t be anyone who could do anything better than anyone else. Sure there might still be a slight learning curve for first-timers but nothing like we have now. Comparing ourselves to others wouldn’t be so self-destructive.
But that’s not reality. In reality, while I can wrap a package with some degree of competence, there are others out there who should wrap packages professionally. I know on a rational, logical level that just because someone is better at something than me that doesn’t make me less of a person. It doesn’t really have anything to do with me.
There won’t be extra gold stars when the ride is over for anyone who happens to wrap the ‘perfect’ present or do anything else perfectly for that matter. Just like there won’t be extra punishment for those who fell short. So beating myself up now because I don’t compare to someone else or anything they do is kind of pointless and counter-productive.
As I sit here looking at my not-so-perfectly wrapped presents I can’t help but smile. They reflect the lights from the tree beautifully and I can’t wait until they’re opened and the presents inside can be enjoyed. And that is the point. Not comparison, not what I get in return, not creating the ‘perfect’ holiday.
The point is to relax and enjoy the gifts we have while we share gifts with others. Focus on the beauty of our strengths, our differences so we can come together to create a stronger society. Let our strengths compliment others’ weaknesses and vice versa.
So I say this holiday season and every day after that we need to let go of the notion that true happiness can only be achieved through perfection and learn to appreciate the gifts and differences.