Perfection: good or bad?

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

Salvador Dali

Why do we seek perfection? Why is there a desire to attain the unattainable? Why do we hold ourselves to such high standards?

Everyone has an urge to reach for perfection. It is a natural reaction. But what is the cost of doing so?

Like all things, there are two sides to a spectrum. The “good” and the “bad.” Take gymnastics for example. In gymnastics, gymnasts strive for perfection: perfect form, perfect execution, and perfect technique. Having all of these makes gymnastics easier as they can swing better, tumble better, etc. Being “perfect” makes the sport 10x easier and prettier. That is why it is sought after. But how realistic is that?

There is always failure before mastery in anything that is achievable. In gymnastics, failure happens every day. Gymnasts fall off the balance beam, face-plant, get injuries, etc. Failure is everywhere. However, this idea of perfection makes it seem like failure is not an option. As a result, many gymnasts develop a fear of failure. Fear of disappointment, fear of the inability to attain a skill, and fear of yourself. Many set this unreachable goal only to have it crashing down on them. Everything is unattainable. By this point, we have reached the “bad” spectrum of perfectionism.

“Perfection is an undesirable and debilitating goal and that striving for nonexistent perfection keeps people in turmoil and is associated with a number of psychological problems”

A.R. Pacht

If we constantly chase perfection, we often lose the fun in things. We forget about the big picture or the goal and focus on the nitty bitty stuff. But is that really the way to live: seeking the small things. After a while, it gets tiring and before you know it you are burnt out. But, this doesn’t mean that trying to achieve a certain quality is bad. Trying to reach perfection can bring motivation, discipline, and more. Therefore, all that’s left is to reach the middle ground.

Only when we reach the middle can we improve ourselves and become our best selves. Not only with determination but also with a smile on our faces.

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