In a lot of ways, I’m still finding myself.
Even looking back on the last 5 years, and recognising how far I’ve come in both my personal and professional development, I am acutely aware that there is a long and winding road still ahead of me. I’ve made some massive leaps in the last few years, and I there is no doubt in my mind that I am at least 10x the man I was even a year ago.
But, sometimes, that just doesn’t seem good enough – especially when I find myself far from my best and questioning whether I’ve made any real progress at all. You see, my logical mind can look back on all my achievements across the core aspects of my life and it knows that I’ve come far, and am on the path to becoming the best me I can be.
But that’s just the thing; I am the best version of me that I can possibly be in this moment, right now. Yet, it still isn’t good enough. Why? Because I’m still far from perfect.
Where does that leave me? Set up for disappointment.
The thing is, I will never be perfect – perfection is a nice idea, and a great concept in terms of being something to aim for, but it’s unachievable, unattainable and unrealistic.
No one is perfect, and no one ever will be – no matter how perfect they might seem.
So, I continue to peel the onion of my life, my mind and my deepest inner self – always striving to be better, with my eye on the prize of perfection. But every time I get reminded of how imperfect I am, I am once again swallowed by my own disappointment in myself. Because I’m not perfect, never will be.
Perfection is like climbing that mountain… every time you near what you think is the peak, you discover another steep incline to conquer. Such is life. You never know how much further you’ve got to go until you conquer the current hurdles, and then, when you’ve overcome them, you are blessed with the gift of line of sight, and you see how far you still are. We fool ourselves into believing that we can finish the journey, achieve perfection, and… then what?
The challenge is that you just don’t know what you don’t know – and this applies to ALL aspects of life. You can’t possibly see what will be expected of you through the next leg of your journey on this planet until you’ve completed this one. Gain the knowledge, assimilate the insights, and then – only then – will you have the opportunity to level up and see what’s coming for you next. But you have to learn these lessons first; you have to struggle through this first. The point? To build you into the person you need to be to be able to comprehend the next leg of the journey, never mind actually walk it.
Every time you work on something, and conquer it, you shed another layer of the onion skin. Guess what’s underneath? More onion. There will always be more onion – and that’s one of the most important lessons in life you can learn.
So, if there’s always more onion – what’s it really all about?
It’s about the struggle. It’s about the lessons, and how quickly you learn them. It’s about how you apply them to your life as you complete this leg of the journey, and uncover the next layer of life that requires you to step up again, be better again, improve again, in order to have the strength to overcome.
Life is challenging you right now – as it is me. Are you rising to the challenge? Are you naively believing that once you overcome it you’ll be able to rest? Think again. The only reward you will get for overcoming this, for completing this leg of the journey and peeling off the last of this layer of the onion, is a bigger challenge. One that is harder to overcome. One that requires new skills and a new level of mastery over your self. But then what? Then comes another challenge.
And so the cycle continues, as it always has, and as it always will.
Isn’t it funny how we see hardship and failure all around us, yet we’re always so surprised when it comes knocking on our door. How self-absorbed of us to believe that all the evidence we see all around us doesn’t apply in our lives. What breeds this deep level of delusion? Seneca wrote about how he observed such atrocities against his fellow man, and how he was always conscious that he should not be so naive as to think those same things would not darken his door – after all, he saw it everywhere, and he is somewhere in that everywhere just as we all are.
So surely the only answer to be aware, honest and to be ready. When that next challenge comes, and you find yourself far from your best, know that it was always going to come to you at some point, as you have witnessed it come to others countless times as you observe the lashings of life as they preside over others. Don’t be so foolish as to believe they don’t also reside over you.
I know I am far from perfect, and that I have a long and winding road still to travel in so many ways. But this is the first step on a road that has no destination, and no end point. Still, to strive to struggle well is what builds us into who we need to be to face the next leg of the journey.
So the next time you conquer your life, no that there is a gift laying in wait for you just around the corner. Know that the feeling of achievement is fleeting, and does not last, which is exactly why you need the challenges the next layer of the onion provides for you. Just like an orgasm, the moment of accomplishment is one of the most empowering feelings in the world, and just like an orgasm is last but a second before the whole process begins all over again.
Embrace the struggle, and strive to struggle well – no matter how far from your best you find yourself, the game is always to return to your best, and to each time make your best just a little bit better.
The great thing about perfection being completely unattainable? There is always further you can go, there is always better you can be, there is always more of yourself you can give. Perfection is the end, and I don’t ever want this life to end.