Perfection is something that, in theory, should be an entirely alien concept to humankind. We are imperfect creatures—mortal, jealous, biased, irrational, and utterly flawed. That we can even imagine something or someone that is free of fault is mysterious, and that we can believe life should be a constant journey towards perfection is simply astonishing. Many of us search for perfection in our lives; however lofty, this is not a completely misguided or off-base theory of how to live. Many of the greatest thinkers this world has known have believed in the idea of bettering oneself and living a “good” life. However, perfection is not an ideal or a rational goal to have, nor is it necessary. I do not believe that what people truly want is to be perfect. What we want is much simpler than perfection.
Though many of us might say that we strive to be perfect, I cannot be certain that we really mean what we say, nor are we aware of the true meaning of aiming to make some facet of our existences completely without flaw. I believe that an utterly human existence is what we are looking for, not one that is flawless. By “utterly human,” I mean that the perfection that we think we are searching for can be found in recognizing our own humanity. Sounds counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Looking for something that is perfect, by means of imperfection?
Though it may sound a little backwards and unconventional, I believe recognizing the humanity in others allows us to recognize our own humanity. When we recognize that perfection is not what we expect in others, we are able to recognize that we are allowed to make mistakes, too. Our lives never will be, nor should they be, perfect. What exactly would life be without growth, without change, without betterment, forgiveness, and learning? What would it be without the imperfections in life—challenges, disagreements, and tests that ultimately force us to improve something about our own lives? How much sweeter is friendship after a fight, love after a broken heart, sunshine after rain, and success after failure? The imperfections in our lives and the journeys to overcome them are what we, in all of our beautifully unruliness, are essentially composed of.
Each of us knows that we will never be perfect in every facet of our lives. There will always be room for error, time for growth, and meaning in this process. What makes our lives satisfying however, is the ability to see in other people what we refuse to see in ourselves. It is natural to hold ourselves to a higher standard than we hold other people to, but we must not let this overshadow that there is goodness to be found in us, too. We are able to forgive another person simply because we understand that he or she is fallible, just as we are. We are able to wonder at the beauty of another person’s soul because we realize that it has transcended that person’s human-ness. Maybe all we need, after all, are moments of human recognition in other people that show us that perhaps what we see in others, others see in ourselves.