Perfection vs. Reality

March 25, 2010

Perfect. According to the first entry at, there are 15 definitions of the word “perfect” used as an adjective. (Doesn’t that just scream imperfection?) Here are a few:

  • conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.
  • excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.
  • entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.
  • accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy.

Society today puts such pressure on us to live life without mistakes, and to fill certain molds. For example, many view today’s models as being “perfectly” proportioned, while for the majority of us, we will never, ever attain even close to that image. Perfection, or near-perfection, is also expected in the workplace. As competitive as the job market is today, pressure to maintain a perfect performance is insurmountable. Perfection is expected in many households as their children move through the school ranks. (Doesn’t every other car have a “my child was on the honor roll” bumper sticker?)

There needs to be a balance between “trying” and “perfection.” I’ve been told to remove the word “try” from my vocabulary, as it includes a built in excuse for failure. In my opinion, trying is good enough – as long as it is giving your full effort to whatever it is you are doing… working your hardest and striving to achieve the best possible outcome or product. What’s so wrong with that?  It’s so contradictory to the pat phrase: “You did your best and that’s all anyone can ask.”

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