A search for perfection – the end of the saga
Updated: Jul 27
All my life I was searching for perfection. I aimed for perfection in every little thing I did or experienced. I can not remember a day in my life that this wasn’t the case. I believed that true happiness comes with perfection. I thought happiness is conditioned with perfection.
I started with myself
I thought that in order to be happy, my life and everything in it has to be perfect. So, I started with myself. I had to be a perfect daughter, a perfect student, friend, girlfriend.. I had to have a perfect figure, a perfect hobby, a perfect job… I needed to have it all. And I had to do it all by my perfect self! It was all doable, I just needed to be perfect and try hard enough to make everything else perfect too. That easy.
The only problem was that perfect doesn’t work in real life. It was never good enough. I could’ve always done at least something better, and I blamed myself for not doing it right. When there was someone better then me, I would always find the reasons why and I would get frustrated with them. Sometimes I would do everything “right” and things still wouldn’t work out perfect. I kept trying, harder and harder every time. It was never good enough. I always felt like I failed. The saddest thing in it is that I was doing great most of the time! I would be as close to perfect as possible, and I would still get obsessed with what was wrong in that greatness. And if there was nothing wrong, I would quickly move to the next thing I need to do perfect. I just didn’t know how to stop.
“Just this one more thing and then I’ll be happy”
Years passed in a constant struggle “just this one more thing and then I’ll be happy”… Happy never came. There was always something missing. I would often get into а loop, overthinking every step before and after I took it. I would beat my head against the wall and still couldn’t find out why I was “not succeeding”.
The thing was I was succeeding, I just couldn’t see it because I was looking the other way. I did a lot. I just couldn’t see it. While I thought I was looking for perfection, I was really looking for imperfections. Whatever I did I was never satisfied. Whatever I achieved I always wanted more… and I was so unaware of it. When people would congratulate me on any of my achievements, I would say “This? Please, it’s nothing..” and really mean it. Because if it isn’t perfect, if there is only one little thing “wrong” about all of it, a missed second in months of work, it was nothing. All was nothing. The harder I tried, the more unhappy I felt. Reaching every goal, being the best at whatever, having everything I wanted didn’t make me happy. There was always something else.. “Just this one more thing…” There was always something missing. I was failing.
It blinded all other feelings
As I grew older this feeling of something missing, of things being wrong and the feeling of being not good enough grew too. At times it would get so strong, that blinded all other feelings and become the core of my behavior. I became anxious, couldn’t see beyond my mistakes. There I was, an almost perfect person, having nothing but doubt in myself. Just because, as any other living being, I wasn’t perfect.
Being constantly unsatisfied ruined my self confidence, self respect and self love (if I ever had them?). I constantly blamed myself and I identified with my “mistakes”. I got to a point when I thought that happiness just wasn’t meant for me. I even thought I didn’t deserve to be happy. I wasn’t perfect, so how could I be happy? Without even knowing I stopped living my life, and instead lived a never-ending race with it. Search for perfection comes with high standards and high expectations. What follows is failure and disappointment.
It didn’t hurt only me
And it didn’t only hurt me. What I did to myself I did to others too. I had almost the same standards for everyone else. Once I had a meaningful relationship of any kind and get closer with people, I would start noticing their imperfections. After a while I would start liking them less, and less, up to a point when I would just stop loving them, just as I stopped loving myself. It was an awful thing to do to others, and it also left me lonely and disappointed. Over and over again.
The worst of all is that I thought I was right. I thought that’s how its supposed to be until I find what I’m looking for. I don’t know how I ended up being like that. I thought everyone was like that. I was wrong.
Now I know better
I got two things wrong from the very beginning. First, perfection only existed in my imagination and second, even if did really, searching wouldn’t be the way to reach it. That’s how I wasted many years of my life. I still don’t know how or when I became like that. I can look for the reasons why and how, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that now I know better. I started looking at life differently. I sometimes still feel like I fool that I “missed” to see it before, but hat’s the old me. I am so grateful I did at all. I could’ve died unhappy and never know why.
Now I know that the right to both wrongs above is progress. I learned (the hard way) that it’s about the journey, and not the destination. Cliche right?
Focusing on progress instead of perfection makes all of the above better. You learn to be happy with what you have. You set more realistic expectations. Every day you are better than the last. You feel better about yourself for every little step you make. You gain self confidence, and the self respect and self love follow. You stop hurting people, and instead you want to help them progress too. You are free to love yourself and others. That’s when you start feeling happy.
And it doesn’t happen just like that. It is a huge change of character and it requires a lot of effort and a lot of time. It takes numerous fights between the person you were and the one you want to be. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is progress.