It’s an expression that floods our lives. We see it everywhere on social media , taking the spotlight of endless motivational memes. We see it emblazoned on t-shirts sold at both fast-fashion retailers and independent boutiques alike. It’s chanted boldly by youth groups, and at rallies, and in therapist’s offices around the world. It’s a cliche, no doubt; but it’s one that’s taken hold of the hearts of many. And for good reason … The message behind ‘perfectly imperfect’ is one that I believe we all need to hear.
Unfortunately, however, like many other things that inundate our lives with regularity, these words can become a bit like white noise, and go unheard. We easily scroll by the positive quotes of our news feeds and go about our lives seeing the memes, but missing the message.
While the words ‘perfectly imperfect’ are undeniably familiar to me, I recently stumbled upon them in a new way. I can’t remember exactly where (likely an Instagram caption or a blog post from an Influencer of sorts), and they struck me differently than ever before. I don’t know why, but for once, it was like my heart was finally receptive to believing the idea behind these words, and my mind was open to inquiring further. I found myself begging the question, of what exactly this cliche even means.
I love to journal, so I set aside some time to write about this expression, exploring what significance it may hold to me. In doing so, I began to uncover a number of lessons in how I could apply this in everyday life.
1. Grace Is a Non-Negotiable
The idea of loving ourselves through our imperfections is most easily done when we are on top. At least, that’s how it is for me. When things are going my way and I’m truly in a good groove, it is easy to practice self-love and boldly proclaim it is rooted in a belief that we are all ‘perfectly imperfect,’ and deserving of self-love.
However, this becomes much trickier to believe when we stumble – as inevitable as those stumbles may be. But here’s the thing: the most important part of this whole ‘perfectly imperfect’ thing comes with that second key word … IMPERFECT.
Imperfect people will have missteps. And if they are lucky enough to live a long and full life, those missteps will at times seem aplenty. But, if there is perfection in our imperfection, that means there is something good in our missteps too. Believing in this concept must begin with believing that.
I’ve been working on offering grace to myself and others in the face of those missteps. I’ve learned that grace isn’t about never holding ourselves or others accountable, but rather, it’s about recognizing our innate humanity, and stepping back after each mistake to absorb the lessons life is offering up. It’s about forgiveness, gentleness, and a belief that our bad days do not define us.
2. “Myself” Is a Worthy Investment
Have you ever implemented a new lifestyle habit (like working out, journaling, meditation, etc.) only to quit when the results weren’t readily obvious? I know I have, and I think this is something most of us can relate to. We live in a results-driven society and many of us (especially me) crave the feeling of achievement to validate our self-worth.
However, this approach doesn’t work for most of us, and while chasing our goals is always important, it’s just as important to have patience with ourselves in the process. Imperfect people will take time to climb mountains, after all, they are not superhuman and can’t just teleport themselves to the peak. So rather than quitting because a goal seems too far-off, I believe it is important to remember that if it is an achievement that will benefit ‘myself’ it is undeniably worth the time it will take to get there.
That journey may involve imperfect twists and incredibly flawed turns … But those obstacles are simply a reflection of me. To let them stand in the way would be standing in the way of my own success. My own success is important enough for me to accept (and appreciate) the imperfections of life, because my own success is for me … And I believe that my perfectly imperfect self is worth it.
3. I Don’t Have To Love My “Flaws” To Accept Them – Nor Do I Have To Love My “Flaws” To Love Myself
A lot of the ‘self-love messaging’ I see online focuses on embracing our flaws, and while that’s an idea I deeply admire, it also feels like a heck of a lot of undue pressure, because here’s the thing … I will confess: I do not love my flaws. At all.
Friends, this is probably what I struggled with the most in my exploration into this phrase. I felt like believing myself to be ‘perfectly imperfect’ somehow meant I had to believe my imperfections were perfect – after all, that’s kind of exactly what it sounds like.
Maybe that is what it means for you, and if it is working out well, then all the power to you. However, that’s not how it is for me. While I totally appreciate the women online who boldly profess the importance of loving our flaws, that’s just not where I am at this point in my life. It would make me positively joyous if I got there one day, but it’s simply not me at this point in time.
I’ve begun to realize however that insecurities in and of themselves are an imperfection. This realization has given me peace, in believing that not loving my flaws is simply a part of the imperfect design that is within us all.
I don’t know if that makes any sense at all. I hope it does, but if not, it’s the very best I can do at trying to explain what I’m getting at here. What it’s about is ultimately taking that pressure off, and letting myself simply be.
I can be insecure and I can love myself all at the same time.
These two things are no more mutually exclusive than
perfection and imperfection themselves.