It starts as a small goal: to get in shape, to earn the highest grade on a test, to get organized, to make more friends, etc. For some, a taste of success in anything can escalate to an all-consuming desire to be even better. For others, being mediocre in anything simply is not up to par. For many, the pursuit of perfection is never-ending, draining, and unhealthy.
However, the pursuit of perfection does not have to be as obvious. Although a few may claim to be selfless saints, the desire to have more or to be better is part of human nature. No one likes to appear weak or flawed, so we seek improvement and present the best versions of ourselves. We carefully cultivate a lot of what we do in order to create the most appealing image through a variety of medium: what we say, what we wear, where we go, who we associate ourselves with, and especially what we post on social media. If your life were exactly like what your Instagram shows, you would always wear the most flattering clothing, go to cool places, hang out with numerous friends, eat awesome food, and do fun things.
Yet, that is not reality. In fact, that is not anyone's reality. In the gallery “Your Story Matters” photographer Erika Forney displays flattering photos of beautiful people accompanied by a caption of with what they were struggling. Everyone has some dark experience or part of their lives. The beautiful model you envy may suffer from depression (like Cara Delevingne). The guy who seems to be loved by everyone may be dealing with a learning disability (like Tim Tebow). The actress you look up to may be experiencing social anxiety (like Jennifer Lawrence).
We are all broken. We have all failed. We have all done things we regret. We have all gone through difficult life situations.
What do we do then? We own up to it. We take both the good and the bad aspects of our lives and acknowledge that all of these pieces are what make us unique.
Instead of idolizing the ones that hide their imperfections, admire the confidence of the ones that own them and wear them with pride. Disregard those who tell you need to be someone other than who you really are and those who only present the best version of themselves. Look up to heroes such as Malala Yousafzai who was shot by the Taliban on her way to school and overcame this tragedy, owning her story to improve the lives of others, and Amy Schumer, a comedian who acknowledges her flaws and is unafraid to be purely herself. Work to love yourself and be the best version of yourself, not of someone else.Remember: perfection is not possible. However, don’t let the inevitably of imperfection cast a shadow over your dream. As Vince Lombardi once said, “Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can achieve excellence.” Know your limits, embrace your flaws, and work to be the happiest, healthiest, and most balanced version of you.