Saturday, November 26, 2011

An Imperfect Perfection. . .

Hello Fans:

I hope you and yours had a safe and pleasant Thanksgiving Holiday!  I know in this gloomy economy, it's easy to feel as though we have nothing to be thankful about, but if you dig deep, you'll find plenty to give thanks for.  In fact, if you're reading this, it means you woke up today, Give Thanks for that!   ;-)

Out of all the words I find most fascinating, there is one word which has haunted me all of my life~~the word perfect.  Just think about that word for a second or two.  What exactly is perfect?  How do you define perfection?  What meaning or purpose do you give it?  And, more importantly, how is it decided who or what is entitled to be, perfect?  So again, I ask, what is perfect, and better yet, what makes us an authority on perfection?

According to the dictionary, there are several meanings to our seven-lettered adjective. I think it's safe to say, the meaning that is most sought after is something that is entirely flawless, without any defects or shortcomings.  Hmmm, that's a tall order to live up to for something that is impossible to ever have.  Which is why that one word, out of the many that make up our universal languages, haunts me the most.  Why is it that we, as human beings, strive for something that we'll never accomplish or be?  And, what gives any of us the right to say who or what is perfect?

If the saying is true that 'nobody's perfect,' then why must we put this label on one another?  Perfection is nothing more than a way to judge how one must act or perform, and we literally kill ourselves trying to achieve this greatness that doesn't exist.  So why do we do it?  Why do we care?  The reason, plain and simple, is because it's the highest honor that one can receive.  When someone says you had a perfect performance, or you wrote a perfect manuscript, or sang and danced perfectly, it sets your soul on fire.  It says that you out performed all your competitors.  It says you did more than everyone else.   It says you went above and beyond without any flaws and, above all else, it says you didn't make any mistakes.  You are perfect!

Really?  I've had various people tell me throughout my life that I'm a perfectionist.  And they would be correct.  I am my biggest critic and toughest competitor.  Perfection is a standard in which I set for myself, so when I don't get exactly where I want to be, I let myself down.

Who told me to set this goal for myself?  I did.  Why did I put this kind of pressure on myself? Because it pushes me to do better and keeps my eyes focused on the prize.  I have been like this all of my life, and I doubt very seriously if I'll ever change.  So, when I think of the word perfect, it's the standards in which I have chosen for myself that I strive toward.

But the problem becomes when others want to put this label on you.  When someone who, just like yourself, isn't perfect, tells you what you must do in order for you to get to the next level.  Hmmm, who are you to tell anyone what they must do to succeed?  If you're not a perfect person, and I'm certainly not, how do you tell a person what they are doing isn't right for them?  What makes you so perfect, and what makes you an authority figure to make such a claim?

You know, it's one thing to set goals for yourself and set your sights high, but it's an entirely different matter to tell someone else that they don't measure up to what you consider to be perfect.  Much like beauty is in the eye of the beholder, well so is perfection in my book.  Being perfect is how one perceives it.  It's like an opinion, not fact.  What perfection means for me, may not be what you consider perfect.  Get what I'm saying.

There are people who will tell you that you will fail, you will not amount to anything, that dreams are wasted on sleepers, that your work is weak, etc. to keep you from achieving and striving where you want to go, and if you allow individuals to label you, that's exactly what you will become.  Perfection is perception, folks, it isn't a known fact!  Never allow someone to tell you your work isn't good enough, or you aren't good enough, because when you let that negative seed become planted in your mind, it will grow into a pesky weed and flourish because you are giving merit to someone else's idea of perfection.

When I think of the negative words individuals have said to me throughout my life, and if I were fool enough to listen to what they said, I would have never become a writer.  I would have kept my secret to myself, as I had done for so many years, and I could kick myself each and every time I think about the years I wasted because I let someone else's standards of perfection hold me back. 

There are many news articles and blogs I read about writing, the tricks of the trade, what you have to do to succeed in this industry, finding an agent, and you name it, it's out there, but at the end of the day, I have to always remind myself what all that means to me.  I use what I need and throw away what I don't.  I'm an artist, a dreamer, a go-getter, a self-starter and self-motivator and I never lose sight of that.  There are people in this industry that want you to jump through hoops to be in their perfect graces, and at first, I thought those were places I needed to be, because this is the advice I was given, so I did a lot of those things to get myself out there, and I quickly realized, that wasn't who I was, so I stopped.

I was so busy listening to all the perfect people in the industry who sell you on their ideas of perfection, that I was quickly losing myself along the way, and that's a problem.  When it occurred to me that a lot of the advice I was given was from people who have been in this game awhile, but use, let's just say, questionable tactics, in which I'm not about.  My thing is, if that works for you, then by all means, go for it, but it didn't fit into the realm of my standards of perfection, so I had to go solo and do what my heart said was the right thing to do.

When you set your level of perfection so high, remember it can also backfire on you.  Sometimes things don't go exactly as you planned them, and that can send you into a deep, deep depression.  I've had this happen too many times for me to count.  Which is why, again, I say, perfection is perception.  It's not something you can ever become because it doesn't exist.  It only exists in the minds of those who set it for themselves.  The trick is knowing the difference, and not allowing others ideas of perfection to become your own, nor allowing their standards of being perfect to mold and shape you.  When you do that, you aren't being true to yourself.

There isn't a man, woman or child that will ever achieve being perfect~~for it doesn't exist, only in one's mind.  It should be used for individual purposes and not abused by labeling others according to your level of perfection.   Every living organism has flaws, all of us has shortcomings, and everyone makes mistakes.  When a human fails by his own standards, the first words usually uttered are, "well, I'm not perfect."  Remember that the next time you give yourself authority to judge others based on your perception of what you think being perfect is!

Until next weekend. . .stop labeling unless you were asked to stamp!

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet