Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PostHeaderIcon Cara: Perfect Imperfection – "My Messy Beautiful Life..."

I heard lyrics in a song that said “perfect imperfections”. I had thought about that for days afterwards. I have been reading and thinking lately about our need for perfection. I know, and you know perfection is unattainable. But yet, we reach for it more times than not.  Mostly though, all we are really doing is comparing ourselves. That can be just as big a “stealer of joy” as is striving for perfection.

It could be in the mirror in the morning as we get ready for the day, or the million times we compare ourselves, our “stuff”, to someone else’s during the day. If you decide to take notice how many times you do it, it will surprise you.

Last week, I walked into the supermarket on a rainy week day morning. I just needed a few things and well, I hadn't washed my hair that day. OK, actually it was day 3 of not washing my hair. My friends say they go that long and their hair looks fine. (Mine, I know does not, but if theirs does maybe mine can too. Comparing.) So, somewhat self-conscious of my gross unwashed hair I immediately spotted a woman who I knew looked worse than how I was feeling that morning (comparing). This immediately made me feel better, for the moment. When I got back from food shopping and although, after checking in the mirror, I guess I didn’t look as bad as the picture in my head, I washed my hair. Good for my friends if theirs looks great after three days. Mine does not. In the scheme of life does that matter? Umm….not so much.

That’s a goofy example of what I mean by comparing. I saw it in myself that day over and over and in other people too. It’s interesting to me how I can be easy with someone else who is comparing themselves but not as easy on myself. 

Later that day (after I had washed my hair) as I got out of my car at religion class drop off, the woman parked next to me got out of her car the same time I did.

Her: ”I like white better.”
Me: “Huh?”
Her: “Your car…we have the same car, but I like it in white better.”
I immediately went into recovery mode.
Me: “Why? Yours is a great color I love that color! White does look dirtier faster…blah blah blah”
She could feel the love. She walked away happy.

So my question is, why can’t we do that to ourselves? Why couldn’t I just have said to myself “Your hair looks fine, no one knows you didn’t wash it today. And really, no one cares. Just go buy your stuff and go home already.” (OK maybe that’s not the most nurturing self-talk I guess I just have a tough love thing going on in my head!)

Perfectly imperfect. Imperfect perfection. I like it. There’s lots of stuff that needs improving, God knows. But there’s plenty that’s just fine (not perfect) the way they are. I can have a mouth like a truck driver, but I can keep a secret. I can barely sew a button, but I can decorate the sh#% (sorry, truck driver) out of a room. I can fly off the handle and go berserk when I feel there’s something terribly wrong going on, but I can apologize if I was wrong or get a grip on myself and be reasonable after I have had a chance to cool down.

This practice of going a little easier on myself and cutting myself some slack I thought was something I could decide to do and it would be so. But it’s not. It’s a constant work in progress. I am getting better at it, but I find myself sliding down that negative, perfection seeking spiral many times.

I am starting to try to think of how I would talk to my kids if they were feeling this way. Good grief…I would have my Supermom Cape on in a flash! I would tell them to go easy on themselves, it's not that important, how they do A,B & C so well and not to focus on D that maybe is not their best. So don’t I, don’t WE, deserve that talk as well? I think so. It’s hard. I know. But if I am going to put my money where my mouth is then I have to try. Listen, I have finally learned to take a compliment and not come back with some self-deprecating remark. I just say thank you. Baby steps. 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!


Heather said...

Hi there! I'm Heather and I was just wondering if you could answer my question I have about your blog! Please email me at Lifesabanquet1(at)gmail(dot)com :-)

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