perfection is impractical – a story

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Perfection is impractical – a story

Author: Mabel Smith

Do you want to be the best of the best of the best? Who doesn’t? But what happens when you don’t reach that goal after you strive for perfection? Do you remember a time where you’ve ever performed, behaved or looked perfect? Can you think of a time where you achieved perfection? Because I can’t. I’ve wanted to… but every single time I’ve fallen short of perfect. I’ve only realised recently that that’s because perfection… like Santa Clause… doesn’t exist (WHAT?!)

Why Strive For Perfection | Striving For Perfection | Strive For Perfection And Not Progress | Don't Strive For Perfection

My story today is about the power, pressure and price of perfection (mindhamok members, go check out our premium content for a deeper dive on this). Maybe you’re striving for perfection and not progress in your studies, sport, relationships, body image, or family (to name a few). If so, I’m reserving this corner of the internet to hitch up my hammock and tell you all a story about perfection – and why I stopped believing in it (although I’m on the fence about Santa).

Let’s rewind a little…

Let me take you back to my late-teens/early twenties (no, not that far back you cheeky little….). I’m in University, making the northern part of England my stomping ground (guess the city: “wey aye man”). And I’m studying English Literature and Creative Writing. I’m training for a marathon. I’m working part-time in a late-night bar to afford a champagne lifestyle on a prosecco budget. And I’m wanting to find love. I’m desperate to lose weight. I’ve began a fasting no-carb diet. I’d kill for a Dominos pizza. I’m writing the beginning of a book for my dissertation. And I’m revising for my finals, pulling all-nighters in the library on the nights that I’m not working, going out, or crying.

I’m f**king shattered.

Why Strive For Perfection | Striving For Perfection | Strive For Perfection And Not Progress | Don't Strive For Perfection

I wanted to be the bestest friend and have a banging body. I wanted to spend my Sunday mornings in a café on the river writing a best-selling novel about the guy I lost my virginity to (it’s giving Jane Austen). But I also wanted to be young, wild and free on a Saturday evening where you could buy 3 treble vodkas and a jagerbomb for £5. I wanted to be fun, sexy, friendly, smart, original, mysterious, talented, cultured and also more than anything: happy.

Do you see the problem here?

Yep, I was so busy looking ahead, wanting to change and be the person whose future I had planned and built. I saw her in my dreams, this perfect person. I was desperate to meet her, to be her. So much so that I was punishing my present-self. I was never enough.

The feeling I always needed to do more, to work harder, to weigh less and for what? A boyfriend? A degree? Money? Friends? A list of external factors. My goals had nothing to do with me or my worth, but how I measured myself in the eyes of other people. That was how I would achieve success. By being loved and accepted by others – but not by myself. Ironic isn’t it? The only thing we can control is ourselves, yet we desperately try to control the thoughts and feelings of others, specifically how they feel towards us.

I’d say yes to things when all I wanted was to say no. I never gave myself a break and strived for perfection and not progress. I used to call myself fat everyday, and I look through pictures now and realise how slim I really was. But that’s how it works doesn’t it? Even if we got everything we wanted, if we are striving for perfection and not progress – we forget to sit in it, to celebrate ourselves. We’re just looking for the next exam to pass, calorie to burn or goal to smash. 

Why Strive For Perfection | Striving For Perfection | Strive For Perfection And Not Progress | Don't Strive For Perfection

Uni, for me, was an incredible time. There were beautiful moments but there were some pretty sh*t ones too. I never ended up achieving everything I wanted to (because I’m not a machine). I did however punish myself a hell of a lot when I didn’t reach those unachievable dreams by striving for perfection and not progress – something that took me a long time to un-learn and I’m still not completely there.

Nope, I never ran a full marathon that year (ok, or any other year after that – you got me). I’m sure I lost some weight and I’m sure I’ve put it back on to lose and gain again and again (a fluctuating body is a beautiful, human body). I did finish my dissertation and I got a 1st (but not a 1st in my degree overall like I wanted). I made some beautiful friends who I still speak to now, and I lost some friends too… another imperfect part of life.

I’m working in a job that I enjoy, after working in many that I didn’t. I am yet to write my ground-breaking novel and I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And I found love, many times. But I have only recently realised that I was craving a love from within myself, which was more important than any other person could give me (RuPaul was right).

Mindhamok

And maybe this outlook on life sounds like a “perfect” mindset. But please, don’t let my ability to make things sound better than what they are fool you. I still suck sometimes. Most days. I often tell myself I’m not good enough, I still struggle to look in the mirror and be happy with the body looking back and I also procrastinate more than anything. Hell, it took me far too long to write this blogpost because I got lost in a classic novel (kidding I was scrolling through Instagram reels – SEE I’m a liar).

So yes, I suck sometimes. I’m just learning not to care as much. Because everyone sucks sometimes. I try my best as often as I can. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I’m lazy and there’s no excuse. And Sometimes I’m up at 7am doing yoga. Sometimes I’m eating toast in bed, lying in my own crumbs and shame. Sometimes I meet up with friends. And Sometimes I lie to get out of plans because I’m too scared to say no to people.

I’m certainly not perfect and I also hate to break it to you but nor are you. These may not be the best years of your life, or maybe they will be – who knows? But for now, you can stop beating yourself down, get up and go do your best. Because that’s all you can do.  

Mabel out *drops mic and lies back in hammock*.

*picks mic back up*

For anyone wanting to explore perfection a little bit more, check out our wellness afternoon series, our podcast on perfection and blog post on being enough – because no matter who you are and also what you do: you will always be enough.

**gently puts mic back down**

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