“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:
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.
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.
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.