Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Courage to be Imperfect

Confession: I am a perfectionist. However, I think I like the idea of perfection more than I like actually working on it. But when it really comes right down to it, perfection is totally overrated. Who can live up to all that hype day in and day out? As I am getting older and wiser, I am starting to see the beauty in being imperfect.

I came across a great TED talk by Brene Brown the other day on vulnerability. If you want to hear the whole talk (which is worth the time), you can check it out here, but there was one thing that was said that is absolutely worth repeating:
Whole-hearted people have the courage to be imperfect, the compassion to be kind to themselves first and then to others, and connection to others as a result of authenticity. They were willing to let go of who they thought they should be in order to be who they were. (italics added)
This really hit home for me. In so many areas of my life I feel like I am always trying to do what I should,  be who I should, act like I should, and say what I should. That is a whole lot of SHOULD. When I sit down and think of what I should be this is what I come up with:

The Perfect Mother - always patient and available for her kids, crafty, clean fun, happy, loves to do projects, wants kids to excel and does whatever it takes to see that happen, never yells or loses her temper, looks forward to spending time with her kids every day, volunteers for all activities at school, actually does those things on Pinterest and then brags about it on Facebook.

The Enlightened Woman- always focused on health and spiritual growth, reads Bible every day, prays for people she doesn't like except she really likes and sees the good in everyone, always on time, calm, peaceful, compassionate, looks down her nose at all things typical (fast food, cookies that aren't homemade, things in wrappers), oh, and beautiful even without makeup on, skinny and runs fast effortlessly.

What I realized is that I am ALL of those things, I am just not all of those things all of the time. I am not all of those things even MOST of the time, and that is okay. My imperfections don't make me less they make me more, especially if I acknowledge them and accept myself as who I am today in this very minute. That doesn't mean I don't want to work on some of them or improve, but it means that just because I am not perfect does not mean I am inadequate. I need to acknowledge and nurture who I am instead of focus on what I am not.

It is only when I begin to accept the imperfect in myself that I can start to connect with other people in meaningful and real ways.

So, maybe I am a recovering perfectionist (is there a 12-step program for that?), and part of what I need to do daily is have the courage to be imperfect.


  1. Kelly - I have seen those Brene Brown TED Talks and they are great. I also struggle with perfectionism and know exactly what you are saying. I have found that perfectionism actually also helps create a "perfectionism paralysis" (like analysis paralysis). My yoga teacher said to me last year - stop reading the map and get the car out of the driveway. The idea being: stop being afraid to live your life for fear of not doing it the right way and live it! Just take pictures for the sake of taking pictures, just play the music for the sake of playing the music, just do the mud run for the sake of getting dirty and doing it. LIVE life, don't fear the imperfections that are part of it. I am striving as a mother to teach my kids to live their lives, don't be afraid of them. You cannot possibly control every eventuality in life.


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  3. I totally get it. I think I should be the Perfect Mother, Super Smart Attorney Who Never Loses, Awesome Wife, and Fastest Runner.

    Truth is, the best I can do is be MY best - not what I think is "perfect" - at what's important to me


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