The Imperfection Challenge
A few weeks ago a friend asked if I would write about being inadequate.
I’ve been waiting for the right words to appear. Partially out of respect to my friend and wanting to do the topic justice, partly because I fight feelings of inadequacy on a daily basis.
Something happened to make today The Day to respond to my friend’s request.
I followed click through to click to discover this post over at The Douglass Diaries. As I read I realized I was looking at something profound, something beautiful and something agonizing all at the same time. Her post was inspired by this post by Single Dad Laughing.
Take a minute to click through and read both posts.
Sunday morning I spent an hour in an upscale mall drinking a cup of coffee and trying to sort out what’s happening in my life; my priorities, my motivations, my hurts, my surrenders, my successes, my failures. As I was grappling with my internal stuff I watched women walk by who made me grieve.
They looked beautiful.
They looked fake.
And, based on the conversations I heard, they didn’t seem to know there was more going on in the world than a tantalizing discussion of their friend who just purchased a Jimmy Choo handbag.
I was offended by those women because I sensed they didn’t want to struggle with all the complexity life serves up. Because even from a distance of 25 feet I could scent their facade.
Because even though they were physically arresting and carried themselves with confidence, they aren’t perfect. But instead of acknowledging that, they covered it up with long, straight hair, manicured fingernails, and wedge heels.
Later I read these posts and realized I’m craving people who can be real. Not raw, but real. I want people around me who can look me straight in the eyes and say, “Yep. This part we’re in right here, yep, it sucks. But we can move forward and the future will be stronger, more pure, more meaningful than what you’re experiencing right now. And remember this other stuff? Isn’t it amazing?!”
When I write here I do my best to be real, not raw. I try to share the quirky bits of life so we can all get a chance to smile.
But I’m not perfect, I don’t think I have the most perfect life ever. It’s fun for me to take topics and twist the words so it sounds humorous… but the reality is many days I write with sarcasm because if I don’t I’ll likely pull my hair out or do my best to get a one-way ticket to an undisclosed location.
All this to say…
Read those posts. This one and this one. It won’t take you long. Then come back over here and help me answer this question:
Can StealingFaith be about acknowledging the real? Can we build a community over here of people who are flawed but still able to accomplish great things? Do you want to be a part of a community where we can celebrate each other’s successes and grieve together, but never lose hope for an intentional and glowing future?
Because I want that. I want to see my own failures and losses and still have the courage to stand tall because I know we are people who are learning to love unconditionally. I want to love unconditionally. I want to recognize my imperfections but refuse to wallow in them.
In the words of Single Dad Laughing:
This is me … asking the good people of the world to find somebody to put their arm around and be “real”. This is me, wishing that people would realize how beautiful they are, even with all of their imperfections. This is me, sad and desperate for the girls in this world to love themselves. This is me, a very imperfect man, trying to help others feel a little more perfect by asking you to act a little less perfect.
Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real.
Will you be brave today? Will you be real? Your ability to state your struggle out loud could be the key to changing someone else’s life. I know these other posts have changed mine. Will you accept the Imperfection Challenge, leave a comment and tell just how perfect you aren’t?
This post was originally published October 17, 2011 and is being recycled as part of the “I’ve Been Around” summer! Hope you enjoyed it and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
16 thoughts on “The Imperfection Challenge”
I’m literally afraid I’m going crazy. There are good days and bad days but the bad ones scare me to death!
I am so tired of living with ILs all around us, we cant move without someone knowing about it!! But we are stuck here.
So good and so important. I am not a preachy person but what struck me when reading SDL was that he was so very close to the cure. Admitting the disease of perfection is so very vital, but it’s the first step in admitting you can’t be perfect and you can’t do this life on your own. His words are beautifully written and obviously with over 5000 comments, he struck a nerve and helped a lot of people that day. But ultimately, admitting you need Christ is the only “cure” for life.
But leaving the heavy preaching aside, yep, I struggle with this all the time. There’s the minor niggling things, like always feeling unbeautiful, fat, stupid, that comes with being an insecure teenage girl who never quite “got over it.” But there’s worse ones that come with being a mother: namely, the fear that I am ruining my kids. I am responsible for shaping their personalities and lives and characters, and that weighs heavily. I worry about what they’ll say about me when they’re grown: ‘my Mom was so critical…I always felt in her way…she acted like she hated carving out time for me…she was a different person in public than she was at home…I couldn’t really talk to her…’ THOSE are the nagging fears that really scare me. I can only tell them that mom isn’t perfect and pray that they understand.
I tried to be perfect for a long time and the utter failure that was bound to happen led to a very dark time in my life.
I struggle daily with worry, about surviving life at this moment, and fear, both of failure and yet also of success. I have known utter failure and some success and both can be deceiving. One brings you to a false sense of desperation and depression, the other to a false sense of pride and haughtiness. Both drive a wedge between you and those around you.
Being real, to me, means admitting that you are exactly who you are, at that moment. Not thinking too highly or lowly of yourself. It’s living in the moment. Very tough to do…
My breath smells like cat food.
If a woman *chooses* to be a SAHM, and/or to breastfeed, great on her. However, it’s a choice each woman has to make for herself, not something that her husband or family or society can dictate. If you want to be traditional, good for you, but don’t think ALL woman should automatically do so.
I am afraid to do well in school if I end up not being good enough or if it turns out I can’t do it after all, then my mom would be right. And she would tell me that she was right every day for the rest of her life. Also, I don’t have a back-up plan. So if I fail, what then? I have spent my whole life trying to do what God has told me to do, living my life in a way that I hope is pleasing to Him, but what if I am wrong? Not just about His will, but about living my life in a way that pleases Him? What if I am doing it all wrong? I constantly think am I in the right place, doing the right things, living the right way and I often forget that messing up is okay sometimes. I constantly feel like I am walking a tight rope. And everyone is watching, waiting for me to fall.
I always wonder if I married the right man. Even though I love him, this life isn’t what I expected. Now we have kids and I feel trapped, even if I made a mistake. It feels helpless sometimes.
When I get super-stressed out I bang on my chest.
I’m sorry. I tried but I couldn’t do it. I started to write out my “real” but deleted it. I just can’t face it right now.
I love to help people! I can’t describe how happy it makes me!! I know that sounds like a great thing, but then I end up burying myself in great things, and getting totally stressed out about it. It’s not that I can’t say no – I just really don’t want to if I feel that I would be helping someone. It’s a vicious circle, and I’m trying to learn that I can’t help everyone. Living my life with constant stress and pressure isn’t healthy.
I feel some inadequacy and failure feelings are important for each of us to feel just as much as success and pride (all in moderation of course). By experiencing the bad we can celebrate and appreciate the good. So many times people feel inadequacy or failure not because they truly feel that about themselves but because they worry of how others might perceive things. I have tried very hard in my own life to dismiss feelings of how it looks from the outside and always know that I am doing the best with what I know and the tools I have. The choices I make are not for show but for what is important to me at that given time. I also truly feel that we wouldn’t be put in situations that we cannot handle. Every struggle we endure is for a reason, if it’s to make us stronger or to give us an experience that we can use as a tool in our future to help others. This quote below is one that I think about both when looking at my own life and when being called upon as a friend to listen to others.
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Love this quote!!!
My fear of failure overwhelms me. Often, it paralyzes me.
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