Don’t Be Perfect—Be Authentic

happy girl, girl in nature, be authentic, be you, love yourself, love your life
Holly Mandarich

What is perfection? Is it blow-dried hair and manicured fingernails? Is it a nice car, nice clothes, nice apartment? Is it faith so strong you never doubt? Is it having money and material things? A heart that never speaks with negativity? A mind that never sins?

I wrestle with this idea quite often. Of course it’s natural to want to be as close to perfect as possible, to have a life, a perspective that is good. But what is good? What is perfect?

I honestly think that idea varies from person to person. Maybe for some perfection is a family, a white fence surrounding a fancy house with kids and dogs and bright green grass. Maybe for some perfection is all the riches in the world, or a beach bungalow where they can live with close friends, or high-rise apartment with a successful job and no commitments. Maybe for some perfection is a life on earth that resembles Heaven, or a relationship with God that never, ever wavers. Maybe for some it’s the exact opposite: an escape from everything other than their own mind.

But with all these different perspectives of ‘perfection,’ how can we know if we’ve achieved it? How do we know whether it’s worth it? And, in being human, what do we do when we inevitably don’t measure up?

Because we won’t. That’s the truth. Try as we might to gain money, success, happiness, security, faith, love, peace—we’re forever going to fall short because of our humanness. And honestly, sometimes that scares me. Because I’ve always been the kind of person who pushes back against my imperfection. I want to be as close as possible. I want to say and do the right things. I want to be this amazing, inspiring person. And so, when I fail or fall down, it hits me hard because I’m reminded that I won’t ever reach that ideal goal.

But what I’m continually learning, continually reminding myself of is that it’s not about being perfect, but about doing, giving, and sharing all that you are with the world. It’s not about being a flawless, shiny person, but spreading your light—however dull or bright or flickering it may be—in the most authentic way you can.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve sinned, failed, been broken (because you will be all of those things at times); what matters is that you are real. Real with your heart, your intentions, your passion, your faith, your commitments, your thoughts, your actions, your mess.

Because at the end of the day we’re all searching—for meaning, for closure, for acceptance, for peace. We’re all fighting to be understood and accepted. We’re all trying to navigate the craziness of our lives and the lives around us. We’re all striving for perfection, in whatever way that manifests itself in our lives.

But maybe it doesn’t matter as much how we see this ‘ideal’ but how we choose to be in the pursuit of it.

We all want something good, but maybe it’s not about striving to be perfect, but striving to be authentic. It’s not about having or gaining all the right things, but being and becoming our true selves.

If we’re only searching for perfection, we’ll come up empty because we’re just people. But if we’re searching for something beyond that, something real and genuine, we’ll realize who we are and what we’re meant to do.

Maybe the most important thing is not about gaining as much as possible, or being this ‘best’ or top-of-the-line person, but about being someone who is real about what’s going on in their life, someone others can relate to, someone who wants to pursue relationships and connections that are genuine, someone who cares rather than seeks all they can gain from the world.

Maybe what we’re really searching for on this earth is not perfection, but our true selves. And we can only find that in being authentic, in being messy, in being honest in the good and the bad and the moments in-between.

At the end of the day, what really matters? Is it the house, the car, the fancy clothes? Is it the money you have or spent, the items you’ve gained or lost? Or is it the connections you’ve built, the love you’ve shared, the hearts you’ve intertwined with, the emotions you’ve felt?

Seeking perfection is a losing battle, but being authentic? That’s the pursuit of yourself, of real love, of a life that sings with joy and purpose. So who cares about having this ‘ideal,’ or being a person who always says and does the ‘right’ things. Just be yourself. Your messy, beautiful self. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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