When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher made a dreaded mistake by telling me I was “practically perfect.” I’m sure she meant it as a compliment: I’m a hard working gal and have always devoted excess time to whatever project I’m working on, but in that moment, I remember thinking that it wasn’t so much a praise as it was a challenge. As in, if this is how I’m being perceived by at least some of my peers, I cannot be anything but.
Now that I’m grown, I’ve recognized the faults in this mentality. Nobody’s perfect. (…If you weren’t thinking about Hannah Montana before, you sure are now). And to expect that of anybody, especially the self, is truly unrealistic. Accepting perfection only is to suffocate one’s flaws, not allowing them to be recognized, experienced, and to be learned from, and that is stifling. However, growing up, a little piece of that idea always stuck with me, and it was difficult to admit when I wasn’t “practically perfect” at something, for fear that I was disappointing someone.
Writing this all out feels a little silly and embarrassing, because really, these thoughts were occupying space in no one else’s mind except my own. It sure isn’t easy to take a long and sincere look at yourself and truly recognize the things that you would like to change, but only in that admittance is true progress derived.
Denying yourself the ability to fail creates tension and restricts the unique space for growth that only failure allows.
It is not an impressive feat to never mess up (or appear as though you never mess up), but it is impressive to dismantle a facade and recognize the less-than-perfect about you: that things you’re not good at but don’t mind, the things you don’t like but are actively working to improve.
Everyone is learning and growing, and that always includes you, too.