In strive for perfection

Date written

18 March 2023

Reading time

6 minutes

We all should strive to be the best people we can be. To be perfect, in a way. But we also know perfection is an impossibility; it's merely a mirage meant to give us the impression of an ideal, but not necessarily an achievable one.

Realistically, boundaries and restrictions exist that make them impossible—you can't just do anything expecting the best results—and we all have different amounts of perceptions and receptions to that fact. Some are aware, but blatantly ignoring it, and there is the opposite, where I think I lie, where people pay too much attention to that.

There's no winner here among the two extremes: if you have your head in the clouds doing things without thinking of reality, you'll quickly succumb to less-than-ideal results; on the contrary, paying too much attention to the fact that you want things to be perfect will only lead you to self-sabotage. Being someone on one extreme, I've noticed how much this over-perfectionistic behaviour jeopardises me in several domains, and I think it's worth talking a little more about it to understand it better.


Writing is a deeply personal activity that I find really interesting. Everybody has their own ways of writing, and we all share stories based on the way we write and how we convey a narrative. Even so, I keep having the feeling when writing that a 'good' piece of writing is poetic in nature. Many of my favourite writers often write with lots of philosophical prose that question the little things in life. They'd have quotes from things they read everywhere.

When it comes to my own writing, I've scrapped some articles because I thought that they weren't long enough. Sometimes, I also feel like I haven't thought out enough, even though I've written multiple revisions of the topic scrapped. When starting out, I thought that it did make sense, thinking that I'm cutting away content that 'wasn't good enough', but I now realise that perhaps I've lost track of my purpose in writing. It's also pretty ironic, considering how many people are often fatigued by really long blog posts about a particular topic (seriously, how do people write and think so much?).

The bottom line is, there are many, many different ways of storytelling. We might be poetic in nature, using metaphors to give an impression that's deep and revealing to readers. On the other hand, we might spell it out and fall back on the simplicities of language to help us paint a vivid but clear picture. In the end, our own writing styles are what make us unique writers individually. I should try to shed this conception of aiming for more poetic writing just for the sake of it, but rather writing freely in my 'style', whatever that may be!


Projects are a surprisingly complicated deal because of how much I think about the details in them. I notice that there is a somewhat noticeable process when it comes to me creating a project. Roughly, I would:

  1. think of a concept and get inspired by the works that other people have done;
  2. think of how to make the idea come to life, starting with a rough prototype.
  3. start to lose interest in the project, staring so much at a blank white frame.
  4. start work for a while, maybe creating the repository and initiating a project.
  5. somehow immediately experience dissatisfaction with the project.
  6. completely disregard the project over time, deleting the repo after one of many repo purges that I do from time to time.

This over-perfectionistic behaviour of mine means that, in my head, a lot of things need to be 'good'. This is pretty funny, considering how messy programming is in general and especially in the context of developing stuff. I notice that programming is meant to be filled with imperfections—after all, I'm sure none of us has seen technology work 100% of the time for every person using it—yet I can't shake the feeling in my head that things need to be perfect.

I also seem to be micro-managing a lot of things, many of the things which don't even have much of an effect in the grand scheme of things. Believe me, I've thought too long and rubbed too many brain cells thinking about an appropriate Git commit message and spent soooooooo long thinking about whether to switch from using Gitmoji to Conventional Commits (I did, but see? The world didn't end!).

I'm looking to fix this by taking my time with projects. Many of my decisions, including that to completely drop projects, are usually made with quick thinking and in the moment. I'm hoping that I'll be able to think twice about committing to dropping a project, considering all the benefits I can get if I do follow through with it. I'd also want to work a bit more on appreciating and understanding that errors are a part and parcel of programming, and an erroneous commit message won't do much harm, or at the very least just cosmetically.

School work

I must admit that I think that my over-perfectionism and too much attention to detail can greatly help. It's allowed me to watch for minor details should I want a project to be as perfect as possible, whether basic spelling or grammatical mistakes or a small cosmetic issue. I think in this case, it helps because it doesn't just jeopardise anything yet. It does, however, make me a rather annoying teammate to have (but I don't think anyone I've worked with has thought that!), since I'd have the urge to point out lots of small things. If you're someone who's stumbled across it and is working with me, hope you'll take note of this! :P

On the other hand (of course there's the bad side to it), paying too much attention to things can easily make you (and even your team) lose track of the bigger picture, which, especially in assignments and project work here in poly, can be critical. Details don't really matter if the project doesn't adhere to the brief given as part of the assignment! Many of my regrets in past projects were that we spent too much time on the small details such that our vision and goal for the final product didn't really make it in the end.

It's still a work in progress, and I think I'll continue learning the more I work with all kinds of people on all kinds of projects. It's an exciting opportunity to learn new things while understanding and correcting the error of my ways!

Perfection isn't everything

I need to remind myself that perfectionism isn't really an achievable trait, and I need to set standards for what can be considered 'good enough'. Sure, everyone has their own standards, and, especially in group projects, standards can conflict, but that gives a baseline for what you think is the minimum amount of work that can be done. It gives you a basis to draw the line and say "okay, that's enough for now" and continue on with things.

I carry the trait of being perfectionistic both as a boon and bane, and I do see it as both. On one hand, I can be someone who can really pay attention to details and the like, but I can get a little annoying and focus too much on the smaller details. There must be a balance that should be struck, and I'm still trying to figure out what works for me.

Thank you as always for reading! :)