The number one definition (most voted for by others) in the Urban Dictionary cites perfection as an impossibility, something unattainable, something that cannot be reached…ever. So why on earth do we keep striving so hard to achieve this seemingly unreachable state? It’s exhausting!
I work in an incredibly fast-paced, high-pressure, demanding, always-on environment; but then again, who doesn’t? Every morning while driving to work I squeeze this mantra out of a mouth fixed in a faux-relaxed, demi-smile – I am cool, calm, capable and captivating. I repeat – I am cool, calm, capable and captivating. By the time traffic has inched me into the parking area, I believe it and I continue to believe it all the way until reaching my inbox. The inbox, that is, seen in full laptop-sized splendour and boasting 110 boldly unread emails; not the small seemingly more manageable version I was checking on my phone while driving.
I am instantly overwhelmed and it’s not even 8:15am.
And why? Because I know that there is no way I will get to restore my inbox to blank beauty in the 5 minute spaces between the 5 meetings I have lined up for my attendance pleasure. And of course, what this ultimately means is that I am not going to be able to deliver 100% of what is expected of me by whomever has been sending me those blasted emails; by the people who are awaiting the completion of the tasks shouting red exclamation marks in my task bar and I certainly won’t be able to miraculously create a parallel universe (I’ve tried) in which I clone myself and meet all my deadlines. And what all these things conspire to do, is to ensure that I will have to endure another day without achieving that thing I pretend I’m not really striving for, but obviously am…perfection.
The worst part of this (very therapeutic) rant is that I know that I’m to blame. If I could just let go of believing that small children and animals will somehow be maimed if I don’t respond to an email within 12 hours (breaks into cold sweat.) If I could bring myself to believe what I am always telling my team – “Is someone going to die if you don’t meet that deadline? We’re not heart surgeons!”
And if only I could remember that what I really want to be doing is striving to be the best possible version of myself. And that means…well, I’m still finding out what that means…but I know that I’m not going to get there by meeting each and every deadline, perfectly juggling every ball, genuinely smiling through every meeting and by trying to be perfect.
I can’t promise that I won’t immediately fall back into the large and comfy lap of old habit tomorrow, but at least for now, I’m going to put perfect on pause.