Earlier this week, as members of my family started coming home for Thanksgiving, I sat on the couch next to my sister agonizing over a blog post. One post in particular had been bothering me all day: I couldn't take any photos that looked right, my camera's battery pack died, and I was running out of time to post something that day. "I can't post this yet," I grumbled. "It's not good enough."
"Don't you know that the perfect is the enemy of the good?"
I was definitely taken aback by this idea. No, I didn't know that perfection was the enemy of the good. I'd never even heard of that phrase before. (Apparently, it's a pretty well-known one.)
The way my sister explained it, our quest for perfectionism often stands in the way of things that are already great the way they are. In this case, my blog post was already good enough to publish, save for a few tweaks and typos scattered throughout it. If I hadn't gotten that little push of encouragement from her, it would have gone back into my drafts and wouldn't see the light of day again. (Here it is, in case you were wondering which post it was.)
I'm currently starting to realize that I often let perfection get in the way of the good. I get caught up in the details and get frustrated when I can't see the whole picture. This applies not only to my work, but to my perspective on life. As a struggling college graduate, I often let myself get discouraged because I haven't found a full time job yet, I don't have any local friends, and I don't know what to do with my life. I allow myself to think that life will begin when things are all aligned for me: that I'll be happier when I have a job, when I'm around friends, and when I've figured out the next thirty years or so of my life.
But that's just not how life works. Life doesn't start to happen when you reach certain goals or achievements - it happens all around you every day. It's in the memories you make, the lessons learned, and in every cup of coffee. If you wait for things to be perfect, you'll miss out on all the good there is in this life.
Will I still get frustrated that I don't have everything figured out already? Yes, I'm sure I will. But that's okay - I'm only twenty. I have plenty of time to make mistakes, start and abandon new projects, and have new ideas. Also, nothing in life is perfect: perfection is a level that can't be reached. Don't get me wrong - perfection is definitely something that should be strived for. If you're not doing your best, you're doing yourself a great disservice. However, don't let the stress of reaching something unattainable hamper you from doing anything at all.
"The perfect is the enemy of the good."Yes. Yes, it certainly is.