“Human beings are beautifully flawed beings, to demand perfection from what is inherently imperfect is insanity” — Unknown
Who among us hasn’t driven themselves insane trying to uphold an impossible standard of flawlessness? My latest experience with this comes with my application for the University of Southern California’s MFA screenwriting program.
During my application process last year, I noticed something troubling: fear of failure was paralyzing me. The paralysis permeated into other areas of my life. My fear caused me to fall prey to insecurities about my competency; in turn, I was sapped of energy, motivation, and confidence.
I took note of this and vowed to never let it happen again. On the surface, this was an appealing sentiment, but deep down, it was disfigured. As I’ve prepared my application to USC again, I’ve found myself rotted by the same sense of paralysis. Once again, a misconception about the necessity of perfection precipitated an incline of pressure, which caused a decline in productivity in other areas of my life.
“What about the vow you made to yourself last year? You’re falling into the same trap, did you even learn anything, dummy?” I asked myself.
Well, here’s one of two unexpected and roundabout lessons I did learn: “the inherent uglies of life means we should never expect it to meet our rosy expectations.”
After last year’s application, I expected my experience to evaporate my fear of failure and my insecurity regarding incompetence. Instead, I came to understand the ugly truth about human fears, flaws, and insecurities. Despite any wisdom, intelligence, education, or experience we have, these will never make-up for the inherent blemishes of human nature.
A relentless drive for perfection will always be curtailed by the inherently flawed nature of human beings. Understanding this is imperative if we want inner peace. No, this doesn’t mean self-development is useless. Yes, it does mean we may never develop ourselves out of certain fears, flaws, and insecurities.
Last month I wrote an article about the need to embrace failure and frame it with a lens of productive positivity. Now I’m writing an article admitting I still find myself paralyzed by a fear of failure. Feel free to disagree, but this does not make me a hypocrite. It’s just indicative of the quagmire that is human existence: the fugly factors of human nature will remain despite any herculean effort to be immaculate.
But here’s the thing, rather than allow this revelation to deflate us with disgust, it should inflate us with empowerment. Just because we may forever be stained by these blemishes doesn’t mean we can’t achieve our delightful desires: it just means sometimes our effort needs to be reframed or redirected.
Using myself as an example, I’ve realized that I may never eliminate my insecurity regarding perceived incompetence. Rather than allow this to harm my psyche, I focus on empowering myself to overcome this flaw with a persistent pursuit of my desires.
For the sake of clarity, the distinction between eliminating and overcoming flaws exists in the arena of sports. No championship team could ever claim the title of being flawless. Besides factors like talent and luck, teams become champions — not when they eliminate their flaws — but when they overcome them by recognizing, understanding, counteracting, and persevering through them.
Likewise, the most successful humans in history would be lying if they told you their success came from eliminating all of their fears, flaws, and insecurities. However, they’d be telling the truth if they said their success is at least partially a result of overcoming thier defects in the same manner championship teams do.
Any particular imperfection you (or I) may suffer from, trust me, we are not alone.
Life experiences revealed that my flaws of insecurity regarding incompetence, and an intermittent fear of failure that causes temporary paralysis, is a completely natural human affliction. Fortunately, through recognizing, understanding, counteracting, and persevering through these natural human blemishes, our focus can shift from bemoaning flaws, to ensuring they don’t keep us from striving for and eventually achieving what we desire.
In other words, don’t let ugly, yet inescapable imperfections impede you from cultivating beauty in your life.
Now, please excuse me as I take my own advice and start an application that I’ve been procrastinating…