Letting go of perfection in Lisbon

Straight from my journal

Jeroen Uwland
4 min readMay 8, 2023
Lisbon, photo by me :)

Day 75 — Lisbon

I look around. It’s crowded around me. We are all different, yet all perfectly imperfect. It is a late Sunday afternoon, and the sun is shining in Estrela park. I am doubting whether it’s time to put on sunscreen again.

I haven’t written for two weeks. Maybe I felt a lack of inspiration, a lack of time or urgency. Why do I even write? And what makes it worthwhile to share my thoughts with the rest of the world? What do I uniquely have to say?

I know one thing: I love journaling. The pure joy of looking back at my younger self and smiling at all my listed thoughts and worries, my stubborn beliefs and deep-rooted insecurities, with the wisdom of hindsight.

It is like your best friend sharing their problems. Their view is completely blurred by emotion, fear, and anger and they simply can’t see what we can. It will be alright.

Example; I felt terribly alone in Lisbon last year, feeling like something was wrong with me. But only now, I can see how idiot the whole situation was.

All I did for a month was sit in parks or coffee places, reading books. Too timid to talk to strangers, and preferring to get lost in my own world. No wonder, I felt alone.

But I am back. And the last three months here have been more social than ever. I joined surfing groups, running groups, startup events and I am even living with flatmates. Living the student life for working people with money.

Did the city change? No.

My life did.

I wish I could show him the life I am living right now, just a few months later. He wouldn’t believe it.

Of course, not everything changed. I still find myself grappling with questions and insecurities. I mean, I find it difficult to decide what to eat or wear on a daily basis. Thank god, I haven’t achieved enlightenment at the age of 28. Life would be boring.

I still wonder where to live, what to do with my life and don’t even get me started on love.

One thing I realized way too late is that perfection does not exist.

Life is suffering. The Buddhists knew. But it seems like Instagram doesn’t. Nor Hollywood. The Parisian love story life, including strolls along the Seine and eating croissants, isn’t perfect. The travel influencer's life, spotting dolphins in the morning and waterfalls at night, isn’t either.

My life seems perfect on paper, building startups from Monday to Friday and catching waves during the weekend. And I am super grateful for all the amazing individuals I get to meet and the acai bowls I can eat.

But let me kill the suspense; it isn’t always perfect. I miss my family at home, my close friends, and even the mundane office life.

We all got problems. Yes, we might face different problems. In different contexts. And when some problems get resolved, new ones emerge. What are the problems you are okay living with?

Life is no Disneyland. Every life comes with its fair share of trade-offs.

Life isn’t perfect and will never be. But we are here on this earth anyways, so we better make something out of it, before we fade away again.

Right now, I am interested in human connections and meeting different people. First and foremost, it is an egoistic interest, for I am mediocre at it, yet enjoy a good conversation immensely.

Besides that, it seems to me that we, in our Western society could benefit from a few more real connections.

Probably my interests will change again, I will fuck up, face a bunch of new and known problems and be hopelessly imperfect. Thus human. Because life isn’t perfect and neither are we. We are all fascinating weirdos deep down.

I will be out here, navigating through a labyrinth of doubts and happy moments and all the messy parts in between. And one day in the future, I will look back at this journal entry with a similar sense of nostalgia and amusement.

That makes this piece worth writing. I write first and foremost for my current and future self.

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Perfection is unrealistic and boring. We are all idiots. Life is no Disneyland. Long-term planning is useless. Leaning into joy and curiosity instead of ambition driven by fear or anger. Determine your own success.

Most cliches are no rocket science, yet I tend to easily forget them.

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Jeroen Uwland

Simply loves writing about all the things that amaze me. Tries to be honest, personal and vulnerable. All on a personal note.