I want to ask you a question.
What is it you are hoping to achieve by letting your inner-critic run free?
It’s as if, by viewing the imperfections in our persona and our work so negatively, we’re striving towards some ideal-type in which we never make mistakes and always produce work of the highest quality.
Part of that comes from the environment we’re in: our days can often be surrounded by excellence, by highly polished journal articles and well-honed lectures, and by accomplished professors drawing on all their skills and experience.
We’re left somewhere in the wake wondering where we went wrong.
But the academic world, given the value it places on excellence and expertise, often tends to overlook a simple human trait: we’re fallible and imperfect, and part of the joy of being human – or at least being a content human – is to embrace our imperfections rather than constantly try and fix them.
Now, this doesn’t mean you should stop seeking to improve, or that you should fail to address shortcomings in your own work. But it does mean that you should take other people off of their pedestal. You should recognise that humans fail, and they often do so spectacularly. It also means that just because someone on the outside looks fantastic, infallible, and seemingly untouchable, doesn’t mean that they aren’t hiding their own humanity.
Celebrate yours. Celebrate all the times you messed up, the times that taught you what you know and bought you where you are today. Embrace the things you don’t yet know and the things you wished you knew. Grab them, and hold on to them, for perfection, even if it were to exist, is a boring utopia.
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