Our desire for perfection can be damning. It leads us to constant unhappiness, feeling as if something is not quite right. We always expect to have life the way we want it and when life does not cooperate, we enter depression. The reality of our lives is that we are basically always in this middling position – always working toward our ideals and seldom attaining them. When we do attain them, the satisfaction is fleeting. We rest on the top of the mountain for a moment and then set off toward another higher mountaintop.
My father told me when I was young and starting to play sports, “There will always be someone better than you.” I have found that to be true. Does that mean you should not try? No. It is okay to do something and not be the best. At the same time, it is good to have an ideal toward which you are working. If we did not have our ideals, we would have no drive. We must just get comfortable with the fact that we are always traveling toward our ideals and never actually arriving (or arriving only for a short time).
If your ideal is to have good relationships, you will probably have a hard time when one of your relationships goes sour. This can be problematic because our relationships are always in flux. You might experience a similar thing when working. You expect to get the job “done,” but there is always more work to do – sometimes the same thing you did last week! Life is about repeatedly coming back to the canvas to work the paint, rather than sitting down and completing a finished, presentable painting. Even if you finish a work, you still have room to improve. It never stops, but your work will be more satisfying if you get comfortable with being in the middle somewhere.