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Perfectionism: The Keen Eye With A Fractured Heart

The perfect is the enemy of the good
— Voltaire (French to English Translation)

As I sit in front of my computer editing photos that I took only hours ago, and couldn't wait to see, I come across one in particular that captures my eye and my heart.  Maybe it's the way the light is hitting my subject, or the composition of the image.  It could certainly be the raw emotion or the way the colors compliment each other like ingredients in your favorite meal at your favorite restaurant.  I am immediately thrilled with the image, and then it happens.  No sooner have I experienced the feeling of happiness, do I put on my critical mask and search for what I would change.  I look for any single detail that I could have done better.  It's awful.

Now, I will be the first to tell you that this specific trait has also served me well in my career and in other aspects of my life.  I was always looking for ways to perform better and this mindset forced me to look outside my comfort zone and grow.  And for a while, it was a positive trait that helped me become better in many ways.  However, somewhere along the line, it started to weigh on me and the happiness I felt doing the things I loved started to take a back seat to the self-criticism I would subject myself to.  Somewhere along the line I traded in happiness in the form of progress for agony in the form of perfectionism.  It was emotionally crippling.

I have never considered myself a victim, and I certainly won't feel sorry for myself.  But what I will do is take a long hard look in the mirror and ask myself if this is the way I want to live?  Do I want to hold myself to unreasonable expectations?  Or worse, do I want to hold others to that same unattainable standard?  That is what perfectionism becomes.  It becomes an unattainable destination that ruins the beautiful journey that we all share together.  

So how might one change the trajectory of their mind and re-navigate towards a healthier, happier life?  I'm not sure this is the answer for everyone, but it certainly is to me.  I keep telling myself that life's greatest treasures, it's most incredible beauty can be found in the imperfections.  When I start to feel the anxiety roll in while thinking about a mistake I made, I tell myself its better to laugh about it.  In the end, when you look back on your life, what makes a better story?  The time you executed your task perfectly, or the time you crashed and burned, yet lived to tell about it?

Fact is, this world is far from perfect, and as humans, we might be the most imperfect of all gods creatures.  And that's OK.  In fact, it's a beautiful thing if you think about it.  All you have to do is take the time to see it.  The moment you start to accept yourself as the flawed individual you are, the more you will enjoy your life and the better you will make life for those around you.  You don't have to be perfect to be perfectly happy.   Its time we start to choose happiness in the form of progress.  Personal, emotional progress.

So before I change my mind and go back and edit this article, I'm going to leave it right where it is.  Most likely filled with spelling and grammatical errors.  And I'm "OK" with that.  It's raw and uncut.....just like life.

M