To Be Human

Here are some fun facts about animals:

A cheetah can go from 0 to 60 in three seconds.

Electric eels can deliver up to 600 volts. That’s enough to kill an adult horse. 

Peregrine falcons can reach up to 200 MPH in a dive for prey.

Ostriches can kill a lion with a single kick. 

Elephants can smell water from miles away.

Honey badgers are well, honey badgers. But they can also crack a tortoise shell with their teeth.

Most animals are nothing short of amazing. Evolution has sharpened its knives and has carved most of them into efficient machines with powers to outlast their environment and their predators. They are stream-lined and made with progress in mind.

And humans?


We have the power to order high-priced coffee and remember embarrassing things that happened to us years ago.

So, okay. Maybe we are the species that evolution forgot. And maybe the cool stuff is coming in the next couple of centuries??? (Honestly, I could use a couple more arms. Or laser beams that come out of my eyes. Whichever comes first.)

But we have to remember that we already have our distinguishing factor. It’s not top speed, or powerful senses, or strong bodies. It’s our faults. It’s our flaws. It’s our mistakes.

I mean, think about it. If any other animal in the wild makes a mistake, slips up once, they could be a meal for another animal. But humans make mistakes all the time. In fact, we are defined by the flaws in our character and our behavior. We mess up, and we apologize, and we learn. It’s a constant cycle that we rely on to live, really. If we didn’t make mistakes and learn from them, we could never evolve. In fact, it is the only way that we can.

For example, our primal ancestors had to learn the hard way that sometimes a cave could act as a shelter for you, and sometimes it could act as a shelter for another predator. It probably didn’t take us long to realize that we weren’t always on top of the food chain, and it certainly took a couple of human lives to realize that some animals should be feared. But once we did, we learned how to avoid them or kill them for our own food. We made mistakes, and we learned without having to wait until evolution equipped us with something to protect ourselves. We made tools and weapons, and we fought back.

So, the next time you get frustrated with yourself for doing something incorrectly, remember that you are actually fulfilling your role as a human. Your flaws are only an indication of your species, as much as tigers have stripes and honey badgers have bad atttitudes.

Not Perfect, Not Even Close

I don’t think that anyone has any delusions that humans are perfect. That’s why plastic surgery exists, I suppose. And perhaps, on some level, sports bras. Or gyms. Or schools. Or fast food restaurants. They exist because people always want to make themselves better, somehow. And also, because people slip up, sometimes.

So, why do we expect ourselves to be perfect at all, in the first place?

I know, I know. We know, somewhere, deep down that we can’t be perfect. But we still strive for perfection, and we try to do great things, and we know that it will be good anyway. All that shoot for the moon, land among the stars hocus pocus. But why do we need to expect perfection? Why isn’t what we’re capable of enough?

For me, perfection gave me stomachaches when I was younger (but who knows because dairy gave me the same reaction). It made me stress over A minuses and deadlines three weeks in advance. It also did not instruct me on how to fail properly. So, when I would mess up, I took it pretty hard. Actually, I didn’t take it at all because I would just berate myself for being such an idiot and avoid my real feelings. I would never internalize a mistake as something to learn from. I just vowed that it would never happen again.

Now, that I am adult I can say with absolute certainty…that nothing has changed. I’m still a bit of a control freak. The only thing is I have slightly smaller meltdowns when something imperfect happens now vs. my childhood. But still.

My point is that maybe we need to reject the idea of perfection altogether. We’re not “better because we tried.” We’re not whole “in spite of our flaws.” Humans just are what they are.

I say that you don’t have to try to be perfect. In fact, I say that you need to love the fact that you aren’t even near the goal line of perfect. Or on the same field. Or in the same stadium. Because not being perfect, not even close, is actually, truly, very human. And that’s very much a perfect thing to be.

And Now That You Don’t Have to Be Perfect, You Can Be Good.

I’ve (probably) blogged about it before, and I will (probably) blog about it again.

I am what kind people call a “perfectionist”(mean people call it “neurotic”). Notice the “ist” at the end, meaning that I have spent my entire life trying to be absolutely perfect. And it truly is its own lifestyle.

Of course, it started in childhood, as all traumatic things do. I had an awesome art teacher when I was in elementary school. She somehow got me to create things, which she should receive the Nobel Peace Prize for. Inevitably after I had made some mistake, (because I always did because I wanted everything to be perfect, but alas I am human) she would say: “There are no mistakes in art. Make the mistake into something else.” And then she would grab my marker and start to turn my “dog” (more like a cow) drawing into a cloud. Then, before my very eyes, it would be a cloud. And this was nothing short of black magic to me. Because when I tried myself, it never worked. I was simply stuck with some awful “dog” cloud.

And, no surprise, I never grew out of that “I can’t make mistakes into something else because I can never make mistakes” phase. I went through high school and college with a high GPA, weeping strongly when I was in danger of messing up. (And messing up would simply mean not having my paper framed in front of the class). It was like walking on a tightrope that was not only above alligators but was also made of sharp glass. You can only imagine what all of that perfectionist energy has amounted to now that I am employed in the working world. (Spoiler alert: nothing good).

So, what’s the happy ending for me? I’d love to tell you that I have now embraced the “dog” cloud life, and I can now write in pen instead of pencil so I cannot erase my mistakes but turn them into something new!

Yeah, this blog is cheesy, but it isn’t that cheesy.

I’m still obsessed with making everything really perfect. Day to day, I’m white knuckling all the way. But this quote from Steinbeck somehow brings me back down to Earth. It helps me to take one foot off the pedal and one finger off the trigger.

And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.

Essentially, if you stop trying to draw the dog perfectly, then you can draw the cloud. Or if you shoot for the moon, you’ll at least land among the stars. Or, if you just stop expecting perfection from yourself every time, you can focus on being actually good at what you’re doing, instead of asking yourself to do the impossible.

Because when you’re a perfectionist, no one really knows what to expect from you. They just know it will be your absolute best. And that is and always will be (whether you believe it or not) enough.