Dr. Sara Murdock
2 min readJul 28, 2021


Earlier this year I wrote a piece on perfectionism about how it’s related to public health and white supremacy.

Earlier this week, my colleague Deborah Hagar shared another, complementary take on perfectionism. Brilliantly, she notices how being perfect ”ignores the changing requirements” that inevitably weave throughout an ever-changing world.

“Perfect” implies there’s a stagnant, affixed and everlastingly correct way to be. Perfectionism ignores both science and art, or any other discipline based on the complexity of the inquiry.

Deborah’s further point is that we do have a healthy and productive alternative to perfectionism: “creating value for others.” Where I might lovingly challenge a bit is that serving the other is often the same as serving the self because we’re all far more woven together than meets the eye. We’ve come to know this where climate change and the biological health of the planet and its ecosystems is concerned.

We can also see how interwoven we are with interpersonal dynamics. Attending to my internal wellbeing is much like putting the oxygen mask on myself before I help you with yours. Internal biology shifts when we are loving with ourselves… and when we are loving to others. We are indeed powerful contributors to wellbeing and/or to disease — our choice.

So “perfect” is an illusion. “Perfect” is a mirage. After all, whose definition of perfect today? And who and what is being served by that definition today?

We can blame “the media” or “the man” but we are the ones who buy the story of perfect or not.

To quote myself: “Your single greatest point of influence is how you respond to yourself.”

Do you choose self-love when you make a “mistake”? If not, why not? And, my friend, may I suggest with love that, if not, you begin today? Choose yourself, not because you are perfect but because you are absolutely, definitely, unequivocally not perfect. Because you’re not a mirage or a facade or a fabrication. You are flesh and blood and heart and soul and the messiness that comes with that. Lucky you!