Perfection seems to be an absolutely positive term. It sounds to be the impeccable standard for all things, like the Ideal State suggested by Plato, and we are educated to achieve it, if you haven't. As a perfectionist, more I live this life, more I doubt the idea of perfection. Instead of making things better, it is, I'm afraid, making things worse. The idea backfires in a way we may not be aware of.
Modern society may have set up a quite rigid model for us. Being money-making, good-looking, outgoing and positive are always good. That is a perfect guy or a perfect girl. That is the vision that we should all pursue. But more you define A is right, more you define non-A is wrong. I believe people who knew about religious history do not feel strange about this. The people who cannot make a fortune, who do look like the models on fashion magazines, who do not like parties or who are a bit melancholic are always less ideal to the society. Even if you by nature do not possess some expected characteristics, probably most of us did not, you still have been trained by daily social interactions, intensified by the flood of social media posts nowadays, and have been tamed with the sweet you will get if you behave well.
You may not fancy the vain achievements, but you still need recognition from the people around you, like your family, your friends, and your lovers, as human beings are a kind of herd animal. The recognition is more than a sweet. It is the daily food that sustains our lives. And it is a problem if we even distort our true selves to fulfil our basic need. The perfection bears anxiety and dishonesty in our hearts. We do not know who we are and we are panicked sometimes.
Back to the root of the case, who defines perfection? Perhaps some are strong enough to abandon all standards created by the society, and may become lifelong backpackers, spiritual searchers, hippies or any other minorities in their lives, but we still sometimes constrain ourselves by our own ideal perfectionism, if you are one of the perfectionists like me.
I always want myself to be a better person. When you want something to be better, you have already defined what is good, and what is not, usually subconsciously though. I may have defined being sophisticated, analytical, efficient and spiritual are always good, that is expected that I and even most of the people should achieve. It may sound too rigid, but for long time I have been feeling that these should be the line defining a mature or a complete person or not. Sometimes I feel frustrated for I do not meet some of the requirements that I set for myself. In worse cases, some people feel stressful as I may have imposed my unreasonable "Ideal State" onto them, which do not fit everyone, or even myself. I do not like the standards that the society imposed on me, but I have become the people I hate in another way by hurting myself, and the people that I love and I loved.
In Taoism, prosperity is what disasters leaned on, while disasters are where prosperity is hidden. When I define those things are good, I define living without them are bad at the same time, or otherwise the first statement can never be logically established. Nonetheless, all definitions are created by human beings on neutral objects. Even though I do not intend to define something as bad, I have been bringing the side effects when I am longing for the perfection. I tried to rope a plant into a perfect shape, but was depleting its energy which had been driving it here so far.
Being sophisticated, analytical, efficient and spiritual may sound ideal for me, but a person who is not sophisticated means he/she is pure and unpolluted. A person who is not analytical could be selfless and caring. A person who may not finish tasks as fast as I demanded could be taking everything into account, including others' feelings, and has more patience to accept others. And is being spiritual that important when someone is already kind enough?
Although in some sense fitting a kind of model is defined as growing up, accepting oneself is also another lesson in our lives, which is usually understood after a long time of exhausting pursuits. We learn to accept our lovers, our family, and, most importantly, accept ourselves.
There is a Japanese art style derived from Zen called Wabi-sabi (侘び寂び). It accepts things to be "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete", typically embodied by containers with cracks or in random shapes. What it embraces is not rigidly creating "imperfect" artworks, but the spirit of accepting what it is. It is meant to liberate us from expectations and let us feel the real freedom of the emptiness, which is the main doctrine of Buddhism, but also distinct from the ideology of the modern industralised society. When there is nothing to be defined as good, we do not need to be afraid of being defined as poor, and we will have no fear in our hearts. It does not mean that we do nothing, but we do things without dogmas and thus things would go on along with the circumstances. Without the redundant anxiety and fear, things may go better than we demanded, because we can always tune our perspectives to see the alternative beauty of one thing.
Perhaps not defining what is perfect is already perfect enough.