Column: There is no such thing as “perfect,” and that’s more than okay

In 2019, my goal is to switch out a previous unhealthy mindset with one that embraces imperfection.

Roshae Hemmings is a first year journalism major at MU. She is an opinion columnist who writes about civil rights.

The phrase “new year, new me” is one that is said all too often at the beginning of a new year. As the the clock strikes midnight, everything in the previous year is erased and the opportunity to do better and be better is an expectation.

In the past, I have never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions — not only did they seem corny and cliché, but also pointless, seeming as though no one ever follows through with their promises of self improvement. Only 8 percent of Americans achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, according to the University of Scranton, and I am no exception. Whether I promise myself to eat better or read more, I almost never follow through. This year, however, I’m giving a resolution another try. Not with something measurable like weight loss or the number of books read in a year, but rather something more abstract. In 2019, my goal is to not be so hard on myself.

In theory, this seems easy enough. But for someone who is a self proclaimed perfectionist, this is easier said than done. Everything that I do and put out into the world, especially as it pertains to my writing and journalism, has to be more or less perfect by my standards. Even as I’m writing this, I struggle to type more than one or two sentences for fear that they won’t look or sound the way that I want them to.

I’m constantly in my own head, over-analyzing and critiquing my work without ever giving it a chance to just exist in whatever form it flows out as. I always thought this was a good thing; the fact that I wanted better for myself and wanted people to see me and the work that I produce in the best possible light. It wasn’t until last semester when I truly realized that my idea of perfection is a really skewed one.

For the majority of my life, there was always an emphasis on being the best in whatever it is that I did. Whether it be school, band or martial arts, if I wasn’t number one then I wasn’t thriving. If I wasn’t thriving then I was failing, and that in my mind was, most certainly, not an option. If there happened to be anyone doing better than me, then my ability to see myself as a competent individual was clouded.

Coming into my first semester at MU, this mindset only got worse as I would strive for perfection to the point of stressing myself out and beating myself up if I didn’t achieve it. That’s the problem with wanting perfection all the time, everytime: it’s relentless, unforgiving, invasive and unhealthy.

There is an idea that being perfect helps us to be ambitious, aim high and grow. While this might be true, it also treats failure and mistakes as unnatural when in fact it is the exact opposite. Failure happens, loss happens, and there will almost always be someone who is smarter, more talented and better. As harsh as this might seem I’m learning that this realization is also incredibly refreshing, especially against the backdrop of college. There isn’t an expectation to know all the answers or to be flawless or to possess the same qualities as someone else. There is an expectation, however, to try and to learn from mistakes and allow yourself grace when those mistakes happen.

And that’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2019: to be more lenient and kinder to myself. Does this mean that I won’t try my hardest and will make excuses for my shortcomings? No, but it does mean that when I do inevitably make a mistake or put out something that isn't as perfect as I’d want it to be, I’ll be more forgiving.

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