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The Path to Perfection

I work to be a perfect writer, a perfect friend, a perfect programmer, a perfect son and brother, a perfect motorcycle rider, and a perfect violinist. I also want to have perfect discipline, be perfect at picking where to focus my energy, and be perfect at things I don't even know how to do, like painting. At the same time, I realize that I will never be perfect at any of these things, even the ones I'm fairly good at. Some I will never be better than terrible at.

I also know that if the path to perfection were symbolized by a yardstick, I wouldn't be more than an inch or two from the start at even my best skills. That's not false modesty-- it's an acknowledgment of the impossibility of actually reaching perfection. It's so far out of reach that even excellence is very far away from it.

If there's no chance of ever reaching perfection, whats the point of striving for it? Goals can be many things-- they can motivate, but they can just as easily demoralize if you're not deliberate in how you use them. I think of goals as a guiding light, drawing me in the right direction.

If the journey is more important than the destination, then making sure one's journey is on the right path is all the more important. Having an impossible goal like perfection not only keeps you on the right path, but it focuses you on the journey. You can't look for shortcuts, arguing that the ends will justify the means, because there is no end. Instead, you see every decision in the harsh light of perfection, and are nudged towards the best path. Being imperfect, I make many mistakes and accidentally get sidetracked, but even so I move slowly in the right direction.

Part IV, Kick People Out of Your Life

On The Slowing

This is Part IV of IV in my Arbitrary Disciplines series.

That title is totally over the top, but I won't say its message is inaccurate. About two months ago - the same time when I started brainstorming to come up with coping mechanisms - I realized that every single time I got on Facebook my mood plummeted. So I deactivated it. (Honestly, I didn't realize you could delete it, but it really hasn't even been remotely a temptation.)

Here's why:

First, I began feeling acutely removed from everyone I loved several times a day. I would see pictures and exciting college updates and amazing, intellectual events - and I'd be reminded of what my life no longer is. I've spent the past four years living in New England. And now I'm back down south where I haven't spent any significant time in five years. That's a huge cultural transition. Not to mention the fact that I am finished with school and moving into one of the toughest times in one's life, i.e. early adulthood, where everything is unstable. I was (and am) ready to build a new life. Getting rid of Facebook was part of building the scaffolding for my new life. Pare down, build up.

Second, I hated seeing other people succeed. I would scan statuses and see "Yay! I got a job at Harvard/Google/Amazon/Some-Incredible-Overseas-Company! My life is so much better than yours!" Maybe it didn't say that last part, but that's what my brain decided every time I scrolled past another friend's "good" news. It was making me bitter and hardened. Sure, it still hurts sometimes when I hear about friends getting great opportunities because I have been trying so hard for so long to find a position. But I don't have to subject myself to angst fourteen times a day. Hearing it once a week or so is manageable. And I can be happy for them because I've been spending all that time I was on Facebook to craft my own life.

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