Strive for Progress, Not Perfection 


Samantha Klein, Staff

Huffington Post

Absolutely anything is possible. There is not a single thing you cannot achieve. Wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, make sure you attend all of your classes and get a workout in. Make sure you complete all of your assignments to the best of your ability, your room is clean, your bed is made and your laundry is done. Make sure you practice a multi-step skincare routine after you shower, achieve your step goal, meditate, journal, plan your papers in advance, study hard, attend every meeting. Make sure to make the extra effort to call home every day, keep in touch with old friendships, socialize with current ones and attempt to form new ones. Make sure you look good for the day, your hair is done, your outfit is comfortable, but simultaneously stylish. Make sure you smile often, stand up straight and above all, never let anyone see the one lonesome tear strolling down your face because you have simply had enough; but anything is possible, right?  

Perfection is a concept unfairly driven into the minds of children at a young age. We are taught that there is a standard that we must meet in order to be good enough, that there is this “realistic” expectation held. And as we see other people meet this expectation, it becomes a sort of protocol, routine. There is this assumption that we must be able to reach this now standardized goal or else we fall short and fail. Inadvertently, one forces themself to try that much harder to fulfill this expectation in fear of falling short, the fear of messing up forever imprinted into the minds of those who will not stop pushing themselves until they break. Yet the reality is, anything is not possible, for this vast category of “anything” includes the notion of perfection, and what is realistic is that there is no such thing.  

Perfect denotes zero mistakes, the absolute best one can be 100% of the time, however, to do this is to be merely inhuman. Robots are programmed to be perfect, not people, and oftentimes even robots make mistakes. Have you ever had a computer glitch, or something go wrong on your phone that was not caused by user error? Even what is intended and designed to be perfect cannot fully fulfill this definition, so why would you, a human, ever think it to be possible?  

The fact you cannot ever be entirely perfect does not mean you should not try your best to be the best YOU can be, but it does mean it is not worth it to run yourself into the ground trying. A balance between discipline and cutting yourself slack is imperative to a positive wellbeing. As much as you might need to study a little harder for an exam or work late one night on a paper, you also need to watch a movie or take a nap. As someone who struggles with finding this balance, feeling immense amounts of guilt when I do ease back on myself, denying myself the credit I deserve for the hard work I do, I understand the difficulty in being simultaneously motivated and relaxed. However, it is necessary to strive for progress, not perfection.  

Get up early, eat a healthy breakfast and go to your classes, but it is okay if you are not able to get a workout in. Do your work and make sure you do your skincare after you shower, but if that means you cannot do your laundry, so be it. You deserve to be in a neat space, so get that room cleaned up, but if you only have energy to make your bed, that is okay too. Maybe in order to call your parents you had to stay up late writing a paper; reward yourself with sleeping in the next morning.  

Even if all of this is not enough to lighten the load of what feels like the entire world on your shoulders, it is always okay to let that tear trickle down your face, for you are not that “perfect” robot, but a human. A human who is loved, important, valued, and above all, perfectly imperfect. As hard a pill as it is to swallow, know perfection is unattainable, therefore, you will forever be chasing a goal that cannot be reached, falling short every time. For this exact reason it is important to not strive for perfection, rather progress. And know too, at the very least, I will be beyond proud of you for this progress.  

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