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I am a perfectionist. It has been a strength at times, but as I have come to realize there is no such thing as perfect. Which is a bit of a problem. Because if there is no such thing, just what am I striving for? I don’t want to stop striving for something, even if it is just being better than I am today.

Which raises another question, what does being “better” even mean?

There are too many ways to think about the concept of being the best. Did I eat a salad for dinner, or a piece of pizza, or the entire pizza? There are so many choices, and you either choose the best, the worst, or something in between.

But what if you didn’t think about it in terms of best and worst, because those are ambiguous definitions to say the least. What if you thought about it in terms of effort. Did I make the easy choice, or did I make the harder one? The more difficult choice always seems to correspond with what is ultimately beneficial. The easy choice might be “good” in the short term. But sticking with the pizza question, how will the easy choice work out when it’s time to put on the swimsuit for that vacation you’ve been planning?

So instead of dealing with good and bad, which are loaded words, I’m going focus on effort. Will always making the more difficult decision pay off in the long run? That is what we’ve learned since we were young, right? In school you were expected to spend hours learning material you would forget the next day. But you were doing it for the long-term pay off.

I’m sure to a person looking at my life from the outside I would seem to have it all together. There are, however, moments when I worry that I won’t be as successful as I would hope to be. Recently these insecurities were re-ignited by some harsh words from a family member.

This person implied that I was making excuses instead of being as productive as I should be. It made me wonder, could I be doing more? Sure there are people doing much less, but there are also people doing more. You know the type, that person who somehow juggles a million responsibilities at once. There is one in almost every circle, that person who would put any average person to shame. So maybe that is the perfection I was aspiring to? The ability to do as much as I can, even if every endeavor will never be completely “perfect”. Maybe the lessons I learned in grade school do apply to the real world. Is doing your “personal best” really the key to success?

If it is, how do you determine what your full potential is? The answer I think lies in the hard choices. The only way you can know what you are capable of is through experience. So what would really be gained if you always did a little more, always tried a little harder? Would you eventually discover exactly what you are capable of? Would you become one of those awe inspiring people who do so much, and somehow still seem ready to take on more? If I always did what I thought I was supposed to do, would I be that person?