I remember when I was young; my parents always encouraged me saying, “ You did a great job there, next time you will do even better”, this phrase got me really frustrated at many occasions. Although my parents appreciated my efforts, they always made me feel that my efforts were not enough. It appears that my parents were trying to send me a message. I grew up in a small family that each member gave their best at whatever task they were handling; a family that I saw as somewhat perfectionist. My family was neither discouraging nor extreme; nonetheless, the task of perfecting everything seemed far out of my reach. As I have thought of the reasons why perfection seemed unreachable, I understood the message my parents were trying to communicate.
Each one of us sees perfection in a different way; yet, most of us are in the chase of perfection. Sometimes when we lay down on bed to sleep, we try to picture how our perfect life may look like. We wander with our thoughts and play with them like a kid plays with his puzzle; we search for the missing pieces to make the picture complete; we search for what we need to make our lives perfect.
I was not any different; I wanted a taste of perfection. I tried to think of all the possible ways that I can reflect perfection. I was always disappointed, because my expectations far exceeded my abilities. One day, I realized that I don’t desire to be perfect anymore. I felt grateful, I felt human and I felt that I was complete. In fact, I started to see that our imperfections are simply, beautiful. If our lives were perfect, we would have nothing to live for. Hope is the shadow of our flaws; so, if we have no flaws, we will live without hope, and I doubt the existence of a life without hope.
After my realizations, I have reached a stage of my life were everything seemed neutral. I was neither discouraged because of high expectations, nor encouraged to grow and improve. I started to think, “Okay, what should I do now?” I felt lost; I felt unchallenged. I needed middle ground, where both aspirations and acceptance meet. I realized something more profound; I started to see a tradeoff. When we don’t care about perfection, we don’t grow and change that much, but we don’t feel bad about it either (because we are in a state of acceptance). On the other hand, when we try to be perfect, we grow and change, but we still feel bad about it (Because we put so much emphasis on our unrealistic expectations). So the optimal situation is when we grow and change while maintaining our state of acceptance.
When archers aim their longbows, they don’t aim directly at their target, rather they aim slightly above it, so that when they shoot, the arrow goes further and hits their target. Notice that the archers’ expectation was their target, not the point where they aimed upwards to reach their target. Same thing with us, if we do efforts slightly above our expectations, we will end up improving at our task.
Not all archers have the same bows; some archers have strong bows that can take their arrows further without much effort, while other archers have weaker bows that require a lot of effort for the arrows to go far; yet, all bows are adjustable. Same thing with us, we are not all born with the same potentials. Yet, some of us make use of what they have better than the others.
If the archers’ target was really far, aiming high may still be not enough for them to get their target, but bear in mind that if the archers aim higher, their arrows will go further than they would have gone if they aimed lower. In different words, doing our best may not be always enough to achieve our goal, but doing our best certainly gets us closer to that goal.
Yes, we can’t achieve ultimate perfection; but we can keep getting closer and closer. Every step we take closer is a step of improvement and growth. If we understand the beauty of imperfection, but at the same time we “make the best out of what we have”, we will end up not only achieving more, but also we will feel great about our achievements and progress. My parents were sending me a message that there is no limit for the steps you can take towards perfection; there is always room for improvement.