Perfection is in the eye of the beholder

Photo by Brenda Lin

I sat down to write this editorial, and I thought about all the controversial subjects I could write about. Our country is changing rapidly, the world is changing, and everyone is worried about stepping on each other’s toes, but I do not want to talk about any of that. I want to talk about a subject that affects each and every student here: striving for perfection is ruining us.

I walked onto campus two and a half years ago. I had goals, like I am sure most do. I wanted to make perfect grades, go to the gym all the time and graduate with a perfect job lined up. I am still holding out for the perfect job, but not because I think there is such a thing as a “perfect job” anymore. I know that whatever I do, there will be bad days and good ones. The difference is how I define “perfect.”

Perfection is no longer defined as being free from all flaws, but it is taking every flaw that you encounter and making it positive. I will have a perfect day every time I can go to sleep knowing that I have grown stronger, smarter or wiser.

I did not have this mentality when I came into school. I had never made anything but an “A,” and anything less felt like a failure. So needless to say, I felt like I was failing all the time. It took me until I started my co-op to realize that an “A” on a test or in a class does not define my self-worth or my worth to my employer.

In reality, no one at work cared whether I made an “A” in physics or a “C.” The things that made me effective at my job had nothing to do with a test that I had passed, at least not one on paper. I excelled because I led a team, adapted well, motivated myself and others and took on added responsibility. While I learned many of these attributes during my time at Tech, I was never tested on them.

In order to grow in a career, the most important quality is to be able to lead and work with others. As young intelligent people, we will often be put into situations where we are leading people who will be older and more experienced. Arrogance and posturing can be a natural reaction to prove that you are “worthy” of the job, but that will lead down a tricky path. By asking questions and engaging all of the people, you can build relationships that will push you towards success.

I learned that I flourished in the workplace. I could set realistic goals and achieve them. I realized that you have to “fail” many times before the best solution comes about. But more than that, I learned that I was not failing. I was constantly improving. The first iteration of anything will never be the last, and it should not be the last.

As I go forward at Tech and in my career, I can now look at my life as the first iteration. A bad boss will make me stronger, a mistake will teach me the right way, and if I handle a situation poorly, I will be able to do it better the next time. Everything I do makes me stronger, smarter or wiser, and, for me, that will make my life perfect.