dear beautiful minds, don’t be perfect

If life doesn’t give you what you truly deserve, what must you do? When you can not be perfect, but you won’t settle for any less, what do you do?

I won’t answer because these questions have no answers. Different people have answered it differently over the years. It’s the difference in their responses that have attracted labels – brave, resilient, weak, gritty – but I abhor labels. I abhor patronizing labels that often put human beings on a pedestal and confine them to their own perceived greatness. The labels leave them alone in the midst of a crowd. I just translated a famous couplet to say how acutely we can be alone even in the midst of people. These are matters that break out hearts, trouble us, leave us shaken.

But when Emmanuel Farhi and earlier, Will opines died, the conversation comes around to issues that have been in the open but we find little openness around it. I am not getting there – read here, here, here, here, here and here to get a picture. In India, it’s reached worrying levels.

So, why must you aspire to be perfect? Since when has perfectionism become desirable? Perfectionism is a disease, and I discovered it after experiencing severe writer’s block. It just is an ideal that doesn’t exist, slows you down and makes you overly critical of yourself. You develop low self esteem when you clearly could be miles ahead of your peers.

You have a gift of trying, of being yourself, of being alive. Perfectionism blinds you to these. In academia, it takes on a whole new level. A brilliant space with sky high ambition, one may forget that life is more than achievements, medals or degrees or the depression you may feel in spite of the glories.

Life is in living – sometimes accepting, sometimes fighting whatever it brings. Neither of these require perfection, just the will to try.

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