Friday, March 27, 2009

Perspective: The Stigma of Imperfection

If you do anything but blink, there is
a chance you might do it less than

You might spill your morning coffee,
drop your shampoo in the shower, run
a red light, make an error on a report,
type something incorrectly, have a
misunderstanding, button your shirt
incorrectly, leave your fly open...

Add to these things the things that
aren't a part of your day to day life,
and the risk of being less than perfect
soars even higher. Notice, I said

Now...what if we took the word
perfection, and redefined it. Some
might say that a definition can't
change. To that I would say that
there is a history of change that
disproves that.

In addition, I would say that word
definitions alone aren't everything.
It is how we interact with the
definition that is more important.

However, having said that, what if we
DID redefine the word perfection:

Perfection: Being true to oneself.
Being the best possible me in this
moment, right now.

That definition of perfection might paint
some pretty ugly and uncomfortable pictures.
(Hmmm...are we enamored by perfection
so much because it's so pretty?) But hang
out with me for a minute, and see where I
might be going with this.

I bring up this conversation because
the last several years, as I have
sought to define and create myself,
I have had to interact with the idea
of being less than perfect over and
over and over and over and...

When you are less than perfect, you
might notice that there is no shortage
of people who are happy to put their
couple of cents in there to "help" you,
or just because they can.

While input can be a valuable and
helpful tool, it often is the most
positively received when it is asked
for, instead of volunteered.

In addition, the input may or may not
fit who you are, the situation, or
your current abilities.

In a world where perfection is sought
and put up on a pedestal, anything
that seems to be less than perfect is
something that is to be hidden. It
is something that is often to be denied
at any cost, and often the cost can
be to our own sanity and well being.

How in the world can one live up to
that idea of perfection?

In a way, it is amazing that anyone
does anything in this instant mix world
we live in. It puts us at great risk
of being judged and, even worse, being
labeled, or feeling like, a failure.

I wrote a paper in college on the novel
1984. In the novel, Winston, the main
character, is deemed by the reader to be
the only "sane" one in a seemingly insane

I make a case, based on how sanity is
defined that in actuality, by definition,
he is the insane one.

If our world is defined by its context,
then why have a world that has a context
that disempowers us so readily and so

In just the last day, I have seen two
examples of seemingly glaring imperfections
in the media. One is the pictures of
Kim Kardashian
and the other is the article
about Sharon Osbourne's comments
about her family

If you haven't seen them yet, Kim had taken
some pictures that were loaded onto the
internet that weren't touched up, and then
the pics were replaced with the touched up
version. Sharon addressed the fact that her
family has had substance abuse issues, and
has been forthcoming about them, saying
that it was likely a good thing in how it
might be helpful for others.

In both cases, these two people acknowledged
the seeming imperfect perspective of the
situations, and essentially said, so what,
we are just like others.

I say "seeming" because in the context of
a world with other people that have had less
than perfect physiques, and people who have
had substance abuse issues, who is to say
that perfection isn't the experience we are
currently having - especially if we're being
true to ourself, and being the best possible
person we can be in this moment, right now.

Some might say that perfection is rare.
If so, why in the world do we set ourselves
up to fail by comparing ourselves to a
practically unattainable standard?

Striving for perfection as generally defined
might be a good thing, but I would suggest
that it is only good within the understanding
that everything that happens along the way
is OK. Otherwise it would seem to me that
we might wind up at the destination (if we
ever get to this illusive definition of
perfection) all battered and bruised, and
what is the point of that?

In the culture in which I live, winning
(often best defined by some idea of
perfection) is glorified. I wonder what
would happen if the perception of the
process was shifted. After all, we spend
so much more time in the process
than in that one moment of perfection.

I don't know about you, but for a long time
I used to try to be something I wasn't to
fit in with those that seemed to be the
"right" way to be. If you look at right
as "perfect" then they were the ones that
were the perfectly right way to be.

The problem was, I wasn't them, and it
never worked, for me. As a result, I felt
like the proverbial outsider, not able to
be successfully in the "in crowd" and not
wanting to be myself because it obviously
didn't work, because if it did, I would
have been more popular, or so one might
think, right?

So where did it leave me? As you might
imagine, a less than powerful place, and
not exactly liking or appreciating myself.

How can people feel comfortable with
imperfection when they feel they will
be stigmatized by it? It's also another
way of saying how can they be comfortable
being themselves when another may judge
them as different?

Oddly enough, because of the many
conversations I have had over the last
several years, I believe that most of us
are in this predicament.

I would say that perceiving perfection
where it seems to be missing and creating
perfection is a very powerful tool.
However, I would also say it potentially
feeds the illusion that while others can
be perfect, for us maybe not so much.

Don't we often feel better when we can
relate to others? Maybe the key isn't in
the hiding, as much as it is in how we
communicate in the moment of the seeming
imperfect blip. Maybe sometimes we can be
seamless, and maybe sometimes not...but
if we're being true to ourselves and the
circumstance, and looking for the best
possible outcome, is there really a

As usual, for me having an understanding
of this helps. However, I have yet to
find myself immune to what others have
to say about my perceived imperfections.

While I seek this immunity by coming to
understand myself more, and embracing
all that I am, you are going to see me
be less than the current societal
definition/standard of perfect.

I feel like I do myself and others a
disservice by being anything other than
what I am, given the message I feel that
I am here to convey.

Maybe the message, and how imperfectly
some may think I deliver it, could rub
people the wrong way. I suppose that
is a risk I take.

However, the bigger risk I take is
side stepping who I am, and what I have
to offer the world. Quite frankly,
I am at a point that I am unwilling to
do that. forewarned. I am the best at
being myself, and that is all I am
going to strive to be.

If that works for you, I welcome your
perfect self to come and join me.

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