You stare in the mirror. The person staring back is you, but not you. They’re the real you. The you, who you are, but don’t want to be. They’re a real person with real flaws. You have blemishes. You have too much fat and not enough muscle tone. There are stray hairs, scars, bruises, smile lines and wrinkles. You have tired eyes from working a job you hate. You want to chase your dreams but are too afraid of failure to try. This is the real you and you’re not perfect. You’re not how you imagine yourself. This is the person you run away from—too scared to confront.

No, you can’t confront this person because that would mean accepting the truth. And once you accept the truth, it’s on you to fix things or continue on the same path. Only, you know where that path leads, and it scares you. It scares you because it shatters the illusions you have about yourself. It shows you that you aren’t as close to perfection as you imagine.

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We use makeup, clothes, money, power, and many other things to cover up our shortcomings. Instead of working to be healthier, we tell ourselves it’s not so bad; plenty of other people are in the same boat. Instead of chasing a lifelong dream, we convince ourselves that we’re comfortable where we are; other people would be lucky to have the same life. We create a false reality where we pretend to be happier than we really are.

This leads to showing off on social media to convince others we’re living the kind of life we wish we really were. And maybe, if we try hard enough to craft this perfect image, we’ll convince ourselves it’s real, too. All because we want everything to be perfect. We want to be perfect—to see the same person in the mirror who we see in our minds. But that’s not real. That person will never exist.

You exist. Your reality is real. And you can shape that reality however you want. You don’t have to cover up your problems and pretend they aren’t there. Face your problems and cast the facade that is perfection aside. You don’t need to live in such a way as to convince others that your life is great. There’s no reason to transform your body to please everyone else. What you need to do is live for yourself.

Perfection is a myth, and once you accept that you can start living. Chase your dreams without fear of failing. You’ll never realize them perfectly, and that’s fine. You don’t need your dreams to come together perfectly. You’ll never have the perfect body because the perfect body doesn’t exist. You can have the best body for you, though. And as long as you’re satisfied with it, that’s all that matters. The same principle applies to all facets of your life.

The only thing that’s important is that you’re satisfied with the person you see in the mirror. The real you who stares back. And not just satisfied with how that person looks, but rather how they feel. Is the real you happy with your career, relationships, life goals? Are you actually living the way you pretend to for others to see online? Are you chasing perfection or are you chasing purpose?

When you get a chance, take the time to stare at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself the most important question: are you satisfied with the real you?

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