“I am not a wise man, and I will not be one in order to feed your spite: so do not require me to be on a level with the best of men, but merely to be better than the worst: I am satisfied, if everyday I take away something from my vices and correct my faults. I have not arrived at perfect soundness of mind, indeed, I never shall arrive at it. I make this speech not on my own behalf, but on behalf of one who has made some progress in virtue.” – Seneca
Choosing to work towards mastery of any subject involves accepting that one will never actually attain the goal they are working towards. Mastery of the self is a lifelong pursuit and we need to approach it with the understanding that we are not ever going to be complete. We will never be perfect, we will never have all of the answers, we will never behave exactly as we should in all situations.
But how much worse would we be if we were to never try at all? If we were to go through life simply reacting to the things that happen to us, not reflecting on how we might have interpreted things differently, or phrased our own words or actions in a better manner.
No, we will never be perfect. But we will be consistently better than we were the last time we took inventory. We will make slow and steady progress and we will look back on ourselves and cringe at how far we had to come. And if we are fortunate we will also look forward to being able to look back at ourselves now and cringe again in the future.
virtus fortis vocat