When I was in middle school I went through a SIMs phase.
For those who don’t know, the SIMs is a life simulation computer game series first released in the year 2000. In the game, you can create custom characters with whatever looks and skills you want, build them a house and a family if you choose, and generally imitate your own fantasy version of life. It was pretty popular when I was kid and since I didn’t have any after school activities until high school I used to play it a lot in the afternoons before my parents came home from work.
I spent hours playing that game. I’d use cheat codes to earn more money so that I could build the dream house I’d always wanted, then I’d exhaust my SIM day after day until all of their characteristics had achieved “perfection.”
To become more charismatic I’d have them practice public speaking in the mirror for hours until they became too irritable or hungry to go on. I’d force my SIMs to work out in their home gyms until they had the game’s version of a perfect BMI. And then I’d make them paint or play music until they were as creative as they could possibly be. Only afterwards would I send them out into the world to take on the highest quality jobs, to find the perfect SIM spouses (usually one I’d set up in another lot), and maybe have the perfect SIM children if I didn’t lose interest before that could happen.
I don’t know why I needed to perfect my SIMs, but I think I’ve spent most of the last twenty-something years trying to similarly perfect myself. Subconsciously I always wanted to be the perfect writer before I wrote anything. I wanted to be perfect for the job before I applied for it. I wanted to know myself, inside and out, before I dated the guy I was crushing on. Which, rationally speaking, is absolute BS. Even my SIMs had to practice.
It took me a while to realize that I was setting myself up with the same perfection-oriented agenda as my SIMS. Obviously if I had noticed it earlier, I’d have done something to snap myself out of it. If I wait around to be perfect, then I’ll never get anything done. I’ll stop myself from trying for fear of not being good enough, hold myself back from the things that I really want for fear of messing up. And the truth is there’s no such thing as perfection, anyway.
Life is not like a game of SIMs; I can’t max out on my potential as long as I keep trying to be better.