Imperfection Dust I’ve gathered while in the crypt Wracks my cold soul still. In my bones and fingertips, Exhausted breath meets will.
The silk in my spirit woven of pain Demands more than I can call. Through torrents of tears more than the rain, As always I meet the wall.
I was brought from no fire but, with flaming tongs, You wrought me before your own soul. A twisted spirit in ancient songs In the fabric, I am the hole.
My desire forever just beyond reach As I sidle through the age. Though even Death cannot keep me, Imperfection forever my cage.
Brushing past my gaze of heart The Light I cannot be. For darkness is my candle, Though shadows cannot see.
Okay. So this seems dark. Like…too dark for a happy high school student (like I was) to have written. At first glance one might think I was depressed–like my parents did when they found this poem–however, let me explain. I was afflicted with the common high school problem of feeling pressured by people’s expectations of me. I thought that my failure was another’s disappointment. It was a real weight. I don’t remember what exactly sparked the thought, but this poem was the result of me realizing that people weren’t actually capable of being perfect much less capable of expecting me to be. From conception we are flawed and “doomed” to mess up. This was actually not the product of depression but rather a product of this realization: perfection escapes us all. You not only don’t have to be perfect, but you actually cannot be! All that’s left is to pursue excellence.
Basic human imperfection isn’t a novel thought by far (I promise I didn’t invent it). We hear all our lives that people are born flawed, and they will continue to be so forever and until the end of time. But do we really act like we believe it? Not even close. We continue to wrongly assume that our parents, our friends, our significant others expect us to be physically, emotionally, and intellectually flawless; and we will make ourselves sick to prove them right. But to what end? We try to make perfection a goal as if someday, if we work hard enough, we will become flawless. However, though I am a believer in bettering oneself, perfection is not to be attained.
It’s not an easy thing to dismiss our culture’s sprint for “picture-perfect.” I was embarrassed when my parents found my poem, thinking they might be disappointed in my writing (even after my grand realization). There are days now, years after I wrote this, I still fail to grasp this idea. It will be a constant issue I think. Psychologist and author Harriet Braiker, however, has something beautifully succinct to say about this, “Striving for excellent motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing.” So I urge you, readers, to put aside your aspirations of perfection and instead pursue personal excellence. The pursuit of perfection is not only impossible, but it is a dull way to live. Accepting who you are and that your best is sufficient, is the best decision you can make.