Experience and a tenacious spirit have taught me that life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. That I do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. To not allow perfect to be the enemy of good. I can simply choose and accept good enough.
I am a “recovering perfectionist” and an aspiring “good-enoughist.” Not that I ever actually thought I was perfect, but I always felt I ought to be and was painfully aware of all the ways in which I never measured up (thanks dad). In college, for example, there were many instances when I tried to take a zero on an exam or assignment because I felt ill-prepared or that my work was substandard. Thank goodness for amazing professors who counselled me to try anyways, that any mark was better than zero. Fortunately, I have come a long way since then. Experience, and a tenacious spirit, have taught me that life does not have to be perfect to be beautiful. That I do not have to be perfect to be beautiful. To not allow perfect to be the enemy of good.
In fact it was college and those professors who assisted me in finding and choosing a kinder, more compassionate way to live (thank you Dr. Robert Day).
A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life. – Christopher K. Germer
Having said all that, I still, on a fairly regular basis, butt up against that ornery, accusatory, voice of perfectionism. It tells me the usual stories of not being good enough or not being on my game EVERY day. As the writer of this project (The Daily Buddha) that I ‘preach’ joy but there are times I feel sad/anxious/frustrated/afraid. On and on that little voice goes, but after years of practice I can usually turn to boldly stare perfectionism in the face and agree, “yep, you are right. I am not perfect and I don’t need to be.” What freedom to acknowledge the truth that I am, indeed, imperfect, and that with all my quirks, my specific personality type, and the fullness of my strengths and weaknesses, I am lovely. Worthy. Gifted even. We do not need to be perfect to serve the world or to live with joy. To have strong, connected relationships, or to do meaningful work in the world. We can embrace good enough and quiet the voice of our inner critic.
Believe me when I state that we can wholeheartedly embrace imperfection, we can come to understand that those pesky imperfections are what make us unique, can give us strength and show us the error of our ways at times. That our imperfections are what make us both beautiful and unique. I would like to suggest a book entitled The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown who coined the term “aspiring good-enoughist” – this is one of my absolute favorite books and may become one of yours.
Peace and Love, Jim