The P Word

Growing up, I was not allowed to say the word “perfect.” It was a parenting technique used to help my brother and me keep from obsessing over details or getting disappointed over a B in school. My parents didn’t want us to think their love was conditional. They made it clear they expected us to try our best, and we should strive for “good enough.”

Going through school, this kind of backfired on me because I was the one putting pressure on myself to ace everything. But now that I am almost out of college, I can look back and see where this “P word” ban benefitted me.

We all feel pressure to be perfect, especially on social media. I’ve stayed off of platforms like Instagram and Twitter, but I still feel it. But I have a little voice in the back of my head that stops me before I finish thinking about how perfect someone else is and how that somehow means I am a failure. That little voice is triggered by the word perfect. Even when I just think it.

We also feel pressure to be perfect at school and work. Whether self-inflicted or inflicted by others like bosses or family, this pressure can cripple productivity and self-esteem. Remembering that “perfect” is an ideal and not a goal helps alleviate that pressure. We are not on the universal scale of “failure” to “perfect”, we are on individual scales of “not trying” to “trying our best.” And that is good enough.

How does your parent use “perfect” around you? Where do you think most of the pressure you go through comes from?

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