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Life’s greatest illusion


Thinking. Photo: Talent Talks

During a conversation with friends about how they wish they had never made certain mistakes, and thus, had the perfect life, I got thinking.

‘Can you really live life in absolute perfection?’ I asked myself. Of course not, even celebrities who are worshipped have mistakes and trials of their own.

It’s life’s greatest illusion that mistakes in general make a person worthless and live a life less than beautiful.


In the words of John W. Gardner, ‘Life is the art of drawing without an eraser’.

I know for a fact that drawings are masterpieces in themselves. Maybe, it all just depends on our perception of it.

I do remember sharing the mentality of my friends. Growing up with a very meticulous person for a mother, she ensured everything was done with pure perfection.

The way she laid the bed in the morning made me feel as though if I didn’t carry out that action in that exact way, my whole day would be in ruins.

Every detail mattered to her. For as long as I can remember, her greatest policy was ‘anything worth doing at all, is worth doing well.’

Thus, I made it an unfailing duty to have the perfect diction, be polite in every way, display the proper eating and walking etiquette.

Honestly, there were countless times during which I was frustrated to say the least but what kept me going was my ‘amazing’ mentality of not making mistakes. To me, these perfections I had imbibed gave me an assurance of a paved way in life.

With age has come a stronger perception of perfection. More often than not, I found myself looking down on people who didn’t seem to want to be as apt as I was.

I felt as though, they were headed the south direction of life. Little did I know I was the one at fault for having these thoughts.

Fortunately for me, my mentality, actually my life, took a 360-degree turn. I had just recently got my academic report for the session, and to say I performed woefully is an understatement.

It was as though my life flashed before my eyes because my parents and I were banking on this result to get me admitted into the university of my dreams. At the time, in all my 15 years of life, I had never seen my mum so disappointed.

There was a switch within me, and I felt myself drowning in my fault. So, I gave up on being perfect at everything. I became like the people I once looked down upon.

However, a while after, I stumbled upon a Youtube video on the life of Oprah Winfrey; how her past mistakes does not reflect who she is today.

Prior to me watching this, I would never have thought that someone who has her life so well together would have had a less than perfect childhood. But it truly was an eye opener; it was the light in the midst of my darkness.

I began to open up my heart to a different way of life and till today, it’s one of my best decisions ever.

Simply because, you’ve done something wrong, you don’t want to accept it and thus, you bury yourself? But why are you crying over spilt milk?

It’s not that your tears will turn the hand of the clock back in time, nor will it gather the milk back into the bottle. What’s done is done.

Take responsibility for it, accept it, learn from it, move on and never look back. Yes, I agree. Easier said than done but trust me, I’ve been there and wallowing in self-pity isn’t the better choice.

I remember when I was first ‘saved’ from this deceit, I asked my mother why she was so meticulous, why she was so perfect and thus, wanted me to be the same. She laughed at me and as clear as day she said, ‘There’s no such thing as perfect’.

All along, my mother just wanted me to be the best I could be because she saw potential in me.

Thinking about it now, there was actually not a moment I made a mistake and my mother made me feel worthless.

Yes, she would be disappointed but she didn’t make it seem as though that was the only chance I had in life. All along, I just assumed she was all for perfection but I misunderstood the whole situation.

Life is an adventure, an uncertain journey of self-discovery. You can’t make plans and expect that everything would work out just the way you pictured it in your head.

I’m not saying you should not have an idea of where you’re going in life, but also be sure to open yourself up to other opportunities and lifestyles.

Maybe the plan you have for yourself isn’t half as good as the one life wants to give you on this beautiful adventure.

Honestly, you’re not meant to have everything figured out down to the last detail. There’ll be bumps in this long ride called life but you’ve got to trust that your journey will lead to a beautiful destination.

The series, ‘One Tree Hill’, says it better than I do: ‘It’s the oldest story in the world.

One day you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing someday is today. And that someday is yesterday, and this is your life’. So much of the time, we’re so bent on planning our lives that we forget to actually live it and be in the moment.

We look back and see that what we spent years planning for, we weren’t able to enjoy it because we were too busy planning for the next day.

That was me, until I realised that things change, people change; friends you think you’ll have for a lifetime, you don’t even know where they are today.

For a while now, I’ve tried to study why many people are prisoners to this life’s greatest illusion. I found that, it has much to do with comparison.

For me, it was my mother I compared myself to, trying to be like her when she was just doing what she knew how to do best. As humans, we compare ourselves to the next person.

That celebrity you adore so much, she knows how to sing so much that millions can stop and listen. But you, your dad is always telling you to stop making noise.

Wow! You feel you can’t make it in life because, why does one person have it so easy and you can’t even get past your house?

You forget that it’s that celebrity’s calling in life and not yours. There’s something you can do too that she is struggling with.

So yes, it’s life’s greatest illusion; probably the most believable lie that mistakes in general make a person worthless and live a life less than beautiful.

What makes your life beautiful isn’t how ‘perfect’ you were but how you were able to rise above your mistakes and imperfections.

Tumba is Mass Communication student at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun State.

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