Blemished

 

“Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections.” ~ John Legend

 

Ready for a quick quiz? Only two questions.

Question Number One: List your imperfections.

Okay, most of us could go waaay to long, and really, what is the point? Internal self-mutilation serves no purpose.

Question Number Two: List your “perfect” imperfections.

Now that is an entirely different list. At least for me. List number one, (if I open that can of worms), is seemingly unceasing. List number two, is a head-scratcher. Do I even have any “perfect” imperfections?

I think I need a third list. Functional imperfections. The scratches that I have to make due with. The dents that I work around. The scars that I prefer not to promote.

My blemishes. My functional imperfections. They rise to the surface when I begin to compare myself to others. They blotch my appearance when I look at my reality, and compare it to my aspirations. Because comparison leads to blemishes. I can’t photo-shop my life’s realities.

My blemishes can be classified something like this:

Bleh – 

This is the version of me that doesn’t seem to be good enough. Nothing exceptional. Ordinary. For instance, I drive a 1998 tan Camry. My oldest daughter learned how to drive in that car, and it took a beating. It has a missing a hubcap. It has a collection of scratches and scrapes. It has a huge gash on the drivers side, with the door separating from the front side panel, when she wedged the car on a median. I’m embarrassed to drive it around, but it is functionally imperfect. I’m not ready to gash our family budget to replace it.

 

Me – 

This is my perception of what I should be. The photo-shopped edition of my life. Where I should be. What I should have accomplished by this stage in the game. My view of how I should look when I run, versus what the photos show. I think I should be smooth and elegant, like a gazelle. In truth, I’m gawky and awkward. I suppose you could say I’m gawkward. Though I’m in the latter stages of life, I don’t have the titles, credentials, or socio-economic standing of many of my peers. I’m functionally imperfect. I get by.

 

Ish – 

This is my struggle. While I’m taller than most, I’m shorter than many of my targets. I aim, and I miss. Often. But I’m still standing. Still trying. Maybe I’m not winning any trophies or awards, but I’m making relentless forward progress. Ishly. (*Thank you, Peter Reynolds, for your delightful book, “Ish”.)

If I were a house, people would say I have “character”. These imperfections would supposedly add a sort of charm. And the truth is, I can see it in others. A mole on a friend is a beauty mark. A stutter on a colleague is a sign of their humility. Gray hair is symbolic of a relative’s experience; their wisdom garnered over time.

Because we are able to see the blemishes in our friends and loved ones as perfect imperfections. Their quirks only add to their beauty. They don’t need to be photo-shopped, because we enjoy them – scars, dents, moles, and all. We embrace them, with all their flaws, because we don’t measure them through comparisons. They are perfectly imperfect.

But in ourselves, we see blemishes. Functional imperfections. Perhaps it is because we are looking through the wrong lens. We often see our own reflections through the lens of comparison. And this lens distorts our vision, robbing us of enjoying who we are. As Theodore Roosevelt warned us, “comparison is the thief of joy.”

So perhaps I am “blemishy”. Mine isn’t a photo-shopped life. I’m like the old Camry that I used to drive around – but that clunker is filled with precious memories that I wouldn’t trade in. I’m a bit of a gawky runner – but I keep on taking new challenges; logging more miles; climbing more hills; and crossing finish more lines. I’m not the best version of myself, but I’m moving towards that version.

Ishly.

 

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13 thoughts on “Blemished

  1. I agree – this is a powerful post. Why is it we can see our family and friends through one lens and celebrate their blemishes and differences but we can’t do the same for ourselves. As I get older tho, the lens has become a bit more rose coloured at times. Thank you.

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  2. This is such powerful writing. I found myself shaking my head the entire time. I can relate to what you wrote. In ourselves we see blemishes, but in others we see their imperfections as unique marks of beauty. The TR quote is poignant. One I need to remember and come back to.

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  3. In response to your two questions: I believe my imperfections are a matter of perception. And when I see the words “perfect imperfections” I view this as the time when I accept my imperfections, not as blemishes, but as strengths.

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  4. The structure of your piece mirrors my brain on my hour-long commute each day – bleh to me to ish. John Legend’s “All of Me” was my wedding song because I felt that it had more reality than most wedding songs, so I appreciate that you can face your realities and strive to be your best self.

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  5. I’m so happy you are slicing! That was a great surprise in the TWT comments section this morning. (Do I usually miss it?)
    I’m so thankful that we are all ISH-ly. I see a lot of Faith in this post. And I’m so thankful you shared it with us!

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  6. “Ish” – YES! We’re all a little “ishy.” It’s definitely easier to accept and admire others’ perfect imperfections (I love that John Legend song, by the way) than ours. Thank you for this vulnerable and honest post – and you’re definitely NOT “ordinary.”

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  7. Ha! I love the idea of “ish” and it “perfectly” describes much of me and my life. Quite an introspective post at the end of a long Monday (time for me to head home). Thanks for sharing!

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