Accepting imperfection

by Ellyssa Jeong, Editor-in-Chief

If you had told me 13 months ago that I would suddenly have more free time in my day, I would’ve thought that I could be one of those people who started their mornings off with a cup of whipped coffee after a Chloe Ting workout or that I’d discover my hidden talent and go viral overnight. In my head, this year was the perfect time to explore my passions and achieve my goals.

To that end, I made strenuous efforts to do so, starting at least five new hobbies and setting countless ambitious goals for myself in the first two weeks of quarantine. To my surprise, I only feel the striking irony of being more lost now than ever before.

Within a month, my goals were half-baked in completion, and I started to cycle through an identical process with new goals. After months of abandoning activities and passions, I a) finally connected the dots and found a pattern in my tragically self-sabotaging behavior and b) simply ran out of ideas to pursue.

Pre-pandemic, my go-to excuse and mantra in life was always “I don’t have enough time.” It was an easy way to brush off and hide from the fact that I could’ve been at fault for my inability to achieve something. The reality was that time was not the issue, as I was not progressing my goals in any way. 

To my disappointment, when I wasn’t spending my time staring at a medium-sized screen, I distracted myself with a smaller one. The funny thing is, my distraction, which I thought would temporarily relieve me, only made me feel guilt; during the time I spent scrolling through my phone, the only thing I could think about was how I should be finishing that history assignment due next week or building a spaceship to discover aliens in a galaxy far, far away.

I don’t need to know the situation to tell you that my expectations for myself are fixed and through the roof. It is simply easier for things to exist in a dream state, where procrastination and perfectionism do not exist. When I actually work toward my goals, I’m forced to reconcile the possibility that I might not do as well as I had imagined or hoped. 

If I keep myself from pursuing my own interests with all of this time in my hands, how will I ever achieve my goals? What does it take, exactly, to get from here — where I spend my time idly wallowing in self pity — to there? 

Though Pinterest posts claim that when one door closes, another opens, open opportunities is the scariest part to me; this seemingly inescapable maze only amplifies my fear of failing at my own standards.

Even as I sat down to write this desk, I couldn’t bring myself to choose from the five ideas I came up with and begin writing, and when I finally started writing, I wasn’t satisfied and believed that there was an unthought idea that would have better results. No idea seemed good enough for this half-page, and I was scared that my ideas wouldn’t translate in the way I expected them to in my head. In essence, it was yet another possibility to let myself down.  

I have now realized that more than time, it is my mindset that keeps me from my potential. The most important thing is to learn how to let go of the expectations I set for myself and settle for the next best thing. 

People often say to “give it time,” as though time is the magical ingredient that mends all problems. Time by itself proves ineffective, though, if we are not in the right mindset, and it certainly isn’t the ladder to all of our hopes and dreams (as cheesy as that may sound). Although I know this intellectually and can advise others to free themselves of unrealistic expectations, I can’t seem to apply this logic to myself. Like all things, it’s easier said than done. 

Perfection isn’t possible. To accomplish something, the most anyone can do, or so I’m told, is to push through the mental block and measure success by the amount of effort you put into it. I can guarantee you — and myself — it works because that’s exactly how I finished my desk.