I once stood in front of my parents and told them plainly that I wanted to be perfect. I wanted to make the right decision every time, I wanted to do the right thing every time, I wanted to be the best squash player in the world, I wanted everyone to like me, I wanted to be the one people came to for help. My parents didn’t encourage this pursuit, they told me plainly, you can’t be perfect, but I didn’t believe them. I tried and tried and tried and tried. For my squash game, it led to a rigid play style of predictable shots, for years I tried never to take risks. Every time I attempted a risky play I would tense up because if I didn’t hit that shot to perfection it would mean that I had not kept my standard, and more often than not I’d hit the top of the tin. Now that I think of it, it’s quite impressive how accurately I can hit the top of the tin… although that’s not something you’d want to pride yourself on in squash.
For my life, it led to letting people down. I’d make promises I wasn’t sure if I could keep, but because of what I wanted I’d make them just the same. It led to double booking people, or not showing up at all. It led to a cold withdrawal of some relationships because I couldn’t be perfect, at least my idea of perfect, if I was in that relationship.
I wanted a guarantee of success, but I think the truth is the more eager you are for a guarantee the less likely it is to come. I now wish I had listened to my parents, to my friends, who told me you can’t be perfect. I hope now I can let go and strive for something a little more down to Earth and know that that’s good enough. That doesn’t mean stop trying, it just means facing the reality that nothing on this Earth is perfect. Everything has flaws, nothing can please everyone, everything decays, or lets you down eventually. I hope that my work will something that I am proud of, that I can look back and know that I did my best at that time. I believe, in striving for perfection you will certainly fail, but in striving for your best you may even achieve greatness.