This I Believe

Susannah - Houston, Texas
Entered on February 5, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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Living the Imperfect Life

Happiness. Accomplishments. Flexibility. Appreciation. Living in the moment. Selflessness. What do these factors all add up to? Nope, the answer isn’t perfection. In fact, it is just the opposite.

I believe in imperfection.

The search for a perfect life is a constant grind. So why are people so intent on trying to achieve flawlessness? I think it is because letting go of the image of an idyllic life is difficult. It feels like giving up hope for a better future. But concentrating on the inevitable flaws, faults, and failings which hold us back from perfection can only bring about discontent. A shift in focus from these perceived errors to strengths and accomplishments, on the other hand, leads to happiness.

Getting hung up on blunders and flaws hinders success. Correcting or forgetting mistakes is a much more efficient way of living. I have learned this lesson through swimming. When I was younger, I became extremely upset when I had a bad practice or race. This negative mindset could continue the next day and cause me to give yet another sub-standard performance. Now, I try to forget about it and concentrate on making my next swim better. In this same way, allowing imperfections in life helps us to accomplish our goals.

Imperfection permits us to take opportunities as they come; it makes us flexible. By letting go of the rigid standard of a “perfect” life, a whole new world of possibilities opens up. When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor, but this dream changed in middle school. My passion had shifted to writing, and I had a newfound interest in fashion. By taking into account my new interests and strengths, I realized that I had innumerable options for a future career. Now I want to be an editor of a fashion magazine. That could all change someday, but I am prepared for that- it will just give me more choices and opportunities.

Letting go of the dream of perfection entails gratefulness. Dwelling on what other people possess causes us to constantly search for more: more possessions, more opportunities, and more successes. Embracing imperfection, however, makes us really appreciate what we have- both material and immaterial.

If we wait until our lives are perfect to start living them, we will be waiting forever. Yes, errors and rejections will occur. Yes, not everything will work out. Yes, life many be hard at times. But there will also be the inevitable rewards that come with living life to its fullest.

Concentrating on the perfect life makes us forget about others’ needs. Leading an imperfect life and recognizing that life is fine the way it is gives perspective and allows us to reach out and help other people. In other words, imperfections show us what is truly important.

Happiness. Accomplishments. Flexibility. Appreciation. Living in the moment. Selflessness. All of these factors just go to show that embracing imperfection is what will allow us to become as close to perfect as we can get.