Perfecting Imperfection: Lessons from a year of self-help

Jarid Altmark
5 min readDec 12, 2021

I was never really a reader, well only if you count dystopian teen novels, endless scrolling through social media and reading headlines. I’d dodge high school reading assignments by using friends for answers and textbook reading in college was more a suggestion rather than required. With all that said, I gained a new habit of reading at least once a week this year. With an irregular pace and often juggling multiple paper and digital books at a time, I went from never reading to finishing 15 books in 2021 (and the year is not over yet). I’m not trying to brag, but want you to understand how abrupt this release of curiosity was.

From psychology books to memoirs, I was fascinated by the complexity of life, mindset, and lives I’m envious of. Full transparency, I’ve been stumped by identity, passion and purpose for the past couple of years. The pandemic provided new levels of uncertainty and I graduated from college this month, but the looming end of that chapter caused more confusion than clarity. It is often easier to numb your way through a lingering existential crisis rather than confronting it.

So, I learned to reflect rather than ruminate, compare less, but all the lessons I learned from a year of self-help were not as conclusive as my Virgo Sun, INFJ, analytical ass expected. I now realize I was trying to perfect imperfection. I was searching for meaning, connection, a higher purpose and a passionate outlet to relieve my frustration of an ambiguous fate — which lead me here.

Here are the lessons I’ve learned from the process:

  • Identity is a gift to be chosen, not one prescribed by others. Stereotyping and language shape personal and systemic discrimination more than we understand.

Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What Can We Do, by Claude M. Steele

  • Your energy and effort as an empathic person can be taken advantage of if you are not careful about who you choose to surround yourself with.

Dodging Energy Vampires: An Empath’s Guide to Evading Relationships That Drain You and Restoring Your Health and Power, by Christiane…

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Jarid Altmark

Artist, Writer, 4x Food Network Competitor, Professional Cake Artist and Practical Overthinker.