Dear nonchalant “You’re perfect,”
You are a sneaky one, my friend. People toss you around, not thinking of any of the consequences. You make yourself look so small and insignificant, a compliment of the highest caliber. And the people who use you as a compliment are sweet people who just want to be nice and appreciate someone, and I have nothing against them. You are the one who can be destructive, seeding insecurities in a person’s heart like weeds in a garden. We don’t like to plant weeds, so I’m writing you this open letter so that everyone (or at least all of my readers) will see what you can do.
Perfection is a crazy goal. On the scale of excellence we see: good, exceptional, out-of-this-world-amazing, and the best anyone has ever done. Somewhere on that scale is the best that any individual can do. And at the very top of that scale is perfection. Perfection is unattainable because we live in a fallen world.
And every time someone someone compares another person to perfection, they subconsciously put perfection on the scale of attainability. It raises the bar for their achievement to that level. And it really is mostly about achievement. They don’t have to be perfect for everyone all the time because other people don’t actually expect perfection from them. But they expect perfection from themselves. And every time they don’t fulfill that expectation, they feel like they’ve let themselves down.
Some people have said that the hardest person to forgive is yourself, and that’s because, try as you might, you cannot just run away from the blame and make excuses for yourself. And that’s especially true when you expect yourself to not make mistakes. No excuse will ever be enough, even when your transgression is something really dumb or unimportant.
So, every time someone says, “You’re perfect,” I die a little inside. They may have the most pure of intentions, and the other person may be completely secure in their identity. But maybe they’re not. And if they are insecure with this idea of perfection, that comment can make that person feel misunderstood. Because they know they’re insecure, and that comment makes them sad but nobody sees it or knows why. Everybody else thinks it’s a compliment for goodness’ sake! And it’s actually really isolating to feel like you have to be perfect.
This is a slight tangent, but “Your imperfections make you perfect” is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No. Just stop. Why are we so obsessed with perfection? Why can’t we just accept that we’re not perfect and stop trying to make perfection the ultimate goal? When you look at imperfections the right way, they are beautiful because they remind us that we’re human.
So when you look at yourself in the mirror, don’t expect perfection. When you look at yourself through the lens of perfection, chances are, you’ll only see where you’ve failed and where you weren’t good enough. That’s what the perfection lens likes to highlight. It doesn’t show you that you’re good at playing piano, or that you can do the splits, or that you have a passion for helping out special needs kids. It doesn’t show you where you’re beautiful. But you are. And don’t you forget that. And please, just stop saying “you’re perfect.”