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How MS Helped Me Give up on the Notion of Perfection

Reading time | 2 mins

Sometimes, the lives of others look perfect.

Look behind the scenes though, and you might see an entirely different picture: a life of frustration and self-doubt, of exhaustion and disappointment. Why? Because all too many are trying to be perfect in the eyes of society and not aiming for what is ‘perfect enough’: being truly themselves.

Trying to be perfect takes a lot of energy for anyone, but for those of us living with MS it can be a huge burden.  We often need to rest more and may accomplish less than we aim for as we need more time to recover. Many of us might also have people around us who are looking to us to be as perfect as possible and this can make us feel like we are letting them down as well.

All of this can be very hard to accept. 

Instead of trying to achieve these unrealistic expectations, it’s important to stop, take a step back and ask yourself: Am I living a good life for me? Or am I trying to live by other people’s standards?

Saving 20% for yourself

During my 14 years living with MS I learned that it is impossible to always give 100%. And guess what? In many cases, 80% is more than enough.

I find that by consciously reserving 20% of my energy for myself, instead of expending it all in an attempt to tick all the boxes, this greatly enhances my quality of life. This gives me the opportunity to recover more quickly and savour what is important to me – like having more energy for myself and my family.  

I have also learned that sometimes, instead of chasing deadlines and rushing to get things done, it is better to sit down, have a cup of tea and just regroup. There are many things that finish or solve themselves. I need to prioritise and be more careful with my energy. Sound selfish? As a person living with MS, taking care of myself is my utmost priority.

Honestly? Trying to be perfect is simply not healthy, whether you are living with MS or not. It means a life of constant reaching, constant anxiety and near constant disappointment.  That kind of pressure and negativity can make anyone sick.

Redefining imperfection

I think we need to think about perfection differently. There are things we could do better, of course, and there is nothing wrong with striving for that. However, there a lots of things that are fine with a few flaws.

Do you need that perfectly appointed dinner table? A house as clean as an operating room? A scarily busy social calendar? No, you don’t. It’s not only good for you to understand this, but also for those around you to see you living authentically.

I have learned to love imperfection. My Grandma used to tell me that it’s okay to accept when something is perfect for me. My individual definition of perfection is all that actually matters.  There are so many more perspectives and ideas in imperfection, and that can be very inspiring. It can also bring the opportunity to learn more about yourself and others. To accept the imperfections in bad days can bring you a sense of calm and remove a lot of drama from your life.

The only real question is: are you perfect… for YOU?

UK/MED/19/0056 March 2019