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17 Quotes To Help You Embrace Imperfection

The French dramatist and poet Alfred de Musset once wrote, “Perfection does not exist; to comprehend it is the triumph of human intelligence; to desire to possess it, the most dangerous of follies.” It may well be a folly — or a futile task, in more modern terms — but many of us still strive for perfection, whether at work, in our relationships, in our creative pursuits, or in our appearance. And this quest for perfection, no matter how impossible, renders us quick to notice and bemoan our imperfections.

But what’s wrong with being imperfect? After all, we live in an imperfect world, and it’s still endlessly beautiful and awe-inspiring even with its flaws. In fact, the world likely wouldn’t seem as beautiful without its deficiencies, and the same can be said about ourselves.

Besides, if we always wait for that elusive perfection, we may never reach our full potential. As the American author and educator Henry van Dyke once wrote, “Use what talents you possess: The woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”

Here are 17 quotes about embracing imperfection, from historical figures such as Cyrus the Great and Augustine of Hippo, as well as more modern folks including Stephen Hawking and Beyoncé.

All men have their frailties; whoever looks for a friend without imperfections, will never find what he seeks.
Cyrus the Great

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This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.
Augustine of Hippo

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Persuade thyself that imperfection and inconvenience are the natural lot of mortals, and there will be no room for discontent, neither for despair.
Tokugawa Ieyasu

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It is not worth the while to let our imperfections disturb us always.
Henry David Thoreau

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The important work of moving the world forward does not wait to be done by perfect men.
George Eliot

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There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection. To round itself out, life calls not for perfection but for completeness; and for this the “thorn in the flesh” is needed, the suffering of defects without which there is no progress and no ascent.
Carl Jung

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Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know of life. It is the sign of life in a mortal body, that is to say, of a state of progress and change. Nothing that lives is, or can be, rigidly perfect.
John Ruskin

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Perfection is inhuman. Human beings are not perfect. What evokes our love … is the imperfection of the human being.
Joseph Campbell

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One of the basic rules of the universe is that nothing is perfect. Perfection simply doesn't exist … Without imperfection, neither you nor I would exist.
Stephen Hawking

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There is nothing humiliating about it … It is human to feel imperfect. That was what you wanted, above all else: to be human. And now that is what you are.  The imperfections — the weaknesses — the imprecisions — they are the very things which define humans as human.
Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg

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There is something perfect to be found in the imperfect: the law keeps balance through the juxtaposition of beauty, which gains perfection through nurtured imperfection. Everything that looks too perfect is too perfect to be perfect.
Dejan Stojanović

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Everything is already perfect. And if you can accept that everything is already perfect, the imperfection is a part of the perfection. What’s to worry about?
Alice Walker

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People call these things "imperfections," but they're not. That's the good stuff.
Sean (Robin Williams) in “Good Will Hunting”

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Imperfection inspires invention, imagination, creativity. It stimulates. The more I feel imperfect, the more I feel alive.
Jhumpa Lahiri

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The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.
Anna Quindlen

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If everything was perfect, you would never learn, and you would never grow.
Beyoncé

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Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen

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Featured image credit: Janet Fries/ Hulton Archive via Getty Images

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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