I take solace in the fact that perfection is not real. Perfection is a state where things cannot be better. In real life, how is this a useful concept? We can always be happier, more productive, friendlier, more profitable, more caring and authentic.
Only in extremely artifical circumstances is perfection possible. With a school test, perhaps. Even then you could always be smarter and faster at finding the answers.
What should we strive to be if not perfect? I think the best goal is to be genuine to yourself.
I like Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote from Self-Reliance:
“Men imagine that they communicate their virtue or vice only by overt actions, and do not see that virtue or vice emit a breath every moment.”
It’s a great essay, fun to read out loud in a booming voice.
Over your life you cultivate a personality. You embed habits into your character.
When you act with your initutive self, your genuine self, you are in line with everything you’ve learned and can bring it all to force at once. When you try to fake it, the whole foundation of your being quakes, and you are unlikely to succeed.
When you learn things, they are composed of smaller and smaller facts. “Anarchy means no rulers” is one fact composed of the idea of what rulers are.
When you pick up skills you are picking up vast multitudes of different facts and putting them all together. You can’t successfully break apart from some facts and not others. Human brains don’t work like that.
Instead, try existing on the boundary of your feelings. Don’t do things you don’t believe in. You only have a certain number of hours in a day and you make the choice of how to spend them.
If you’re going to exist, be genuine.