Progress Over Perfection

We've all heard it before: "Practice makes perfect"...right? Because, after all, perfection is the goal?


The concept of being "perfect" was introduced to us all at such a young age, and shaped how we went about our entire lives. At least, that's how it's been for me.


Always striving for better, pushing myself, redoing my work until it is absolutely, undoubtedly, perfect. This meant plenty of late nights working on minuscule assignments, that my mom would try to remind me were "only worth a check mark", and didn't require as much effort as I was putting in.


While yes, it's absolutely important to strive to be better each day, each practice, each attempt....we shouldn't be reaching for something that is so unattainable and stressful.


I'm starting to see the beauty in not being "perfect" because that simply means I have room left to grow, to fail, to start again. And isn't that the most exciting thought of all? That you still have unreached potential?


When I was in high school, I had this one awful day. When I was visibly upset, a friend at the time came up to me shocked, and said "You look upset? You're Caitlyn...you're perfect! You don't have bad days."


As a quick aside - I first want to note that I have never and will never be perfect. None of us are. But, I was a girl, who was friendly with everyone, super involved, and always walked around with a smile. And the girl saying this to me meant it as a compliment I'm sure, but it only reinforced ideas I previously convinced myself of - that I'm not allowed to have a bad day.


Once people assume you have your life together, they start to expect it. Once someone thinks highly of you, you don't want to let them down.


For so long, I lived in absolute fear of letting anyone down. I could never be less than perfect, show I was having a bad day, admit that I felt any negative emotion..ever.


Then, I realized the only person I was ever "letting down" was myself. And it was all due to some false guidelines I set that not one other person cared about.


It took me a terribly long time to get out of that original mindset, and truthfully it's something I still work on every single day. The first step is simply recognizing that there is no such thing as perfection, only progress.


I encourage you to focus on your own progress. Look back at where you were at different points of your life, and how remarkably far you've come. We've all endured our fair share of hardships and pushbacks. But here we are, still standing as these versions of ourselves that wouldn't exist had we not gone through the trial and error, practice, failures, lessons, all of it. And we're still going! We're still learning and trying and becoming a better version of ourselves every. single. day.


It's okay to feel like you have to be perfect. It's okay to be upset when you think you've fallen short. But you have to ask yourself what this idea of "perfection" is, and why you believe you need to be that.


Start allowing yourself to make mistakes. Focus on your potential, but not so much that you learn to hate the current version of yourself. Remember how far you've come, and look forward to how far you still have left to grow.