Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.

Ashley Smith

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Protesting Perfection

Well... here it is. You might wonder what would provoke me to post this photo of me (after a hard day of office work, with hair that used to have bangs but is now somewhere "in between", holding a sign that reads "I'm too Awesome to be perfect.") the answer lies below:

Brene Brown (the beautiful author and Blog goddess of Ordinary Courage) is spearheading the "Perfect Protest". You should pop over and read about it and participate!! But first, of course, read this.

As I walked home last night, I pondered the meaning of perfection. And the distinction between striving for excellence and the pursuit of perfection.

I'll start with the premise that perfection is unattainable. To have a goal that is unattainable gives you permission to never try, to constantly bemoan that nothing ever works out, that you are incapable, worthless... As Brene says:
"Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight."

Excellence, on the other hand, is something you can accomplish in only one way- hard work and practice. If you give yourself permission to be a beginner, to be "not the best" then you have the chance to play and practice and get good at something. You can fly! (so to speak- don't go jumping off the carport roof.)

What is so alluring about perfect then? When I thought about perfection, what came to mind was this: a perfectly round, smooth, white sphere. and I thought what would I do if I found this perfect thing, laying here on the ground? I would pick it up and inspect it, turning it, thoroughly scrutinizing every inch of it. Why? I am looking for the imperfection, of course!! We do that to ourselves, each other, every situation- we scrutinize, analyze, ferret out the imperfection, so that we can proclaim "Aha! not perfect" What is the point of that? To make ourselves feel better (see, she isn't perfect either), to shield ourselves from new experiences (well, if I can't be a concert pianist the first time I sit down, forget it)? If you think about it, our imperfections are what make us unique. If I found a basket full of perfect white spheres, I wouldn't be able to tell them apart, they would be perfectly, well... perfectly boring!

I have battled that disapproving voice in my head for years. You know it- it's that little voice that pipes up when you get excited about doing something new. It says needly little things like
"you really think you can do that?"
"you know EVERYBODY else is better at that than you"
"Come on, you are too fat, old, short, tall, (insert your excuse here) to do that".

Some days I win the battle, some days, not so much. It's okay, another imperfection that I am willing to embrace :)

So, I challenge you. I challenge you to breathe deeply, look in that mirror and say "I am not perfect, and that is okay. In fact it is AWESOME!"

and post your not perfect picture. I did, double chins and all!!!


  1. Thanks for the reminder! It's so easy to give up before you even start when you think you must be perfect the first time. How many great experiences have I missed because I was afraid of not getting just right on the first try? I will join you in your protest (although I did just correct all my spelling mistakes before I posted this)

  2. Perfection is a subject I've thought a lot about so I loved your blog. It is a quality that I have found so limiting in my life. I have realized that when something is perfect all spontinaity and orgininality are lost. Your blog is a great reminder!

  3. that's a sweet gecko in your picture. You don't have to be perfect to be beautiful! I blog hopped over from the ordinary courage.

  4. Thank you all for reading this and taking the time to comment!!

    I do agree that women struggle more with this than men, but my husband is also a perfectionist and he wasn't at all happy with how "not dark (read as perfect)" the writing on my sign was! So funny.

    and,I too correct all my spelling mistakes when I type stuff. I'm putting that habit in the "pursuit of excellence" bag!!!

  5. Great post!
    I just joined in on Brene's Perfect Protest. (Just found her blog last night, so I wasn't able to snap a picture). Once I hit a 30-something, I began to feel this way.
    I have learned there is a sense of peace that comes with accepting little imperfections. :D
    Have a great weekend!!

  6. Woot! Woot! Love your picture! You look gorgeous, confident, centered, and authentic. My kinda gal!

  7. Thanks Joy!

    When my heart is happy, it shines right through!


“Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.” -Albert Einstein