I wrote a little bit in my last post about the fact that none of us is perfect. We are all imperfect, and it is those very imperfections that make us who we are, that make us human. They add the spice to life, and allow us to learn and grow.
I am pretty good at embracing the imperfections in my ‘things’.
Ten months into a year of not buying any clothes, I have very few items in my wardrobe that haven’t been mended or adapted to keep them going a bit longer. I actively embrace the rips and tears in my jeans, as it gives me another chance to practice my sashiko stitching, or try out a new type of patch.
I love how mending my things weaves stories and memories into them, and subtly changes them into something different. Something with a history, something with a story to tell.
So now I need to start applying that very same thought process to me.
To embrace my mistakes as another chance to try something new, a chance to learn and to grow.
To really stop and appreciate how my imperfections and my failures are part of my story, and are subtly changing me, forcing me to look again, to reconsider, to try again. They are my story.
Why does it feel so different? Why can I so easily accept the imperfections, the defects, in my things, and see it as an opportunity to practice a skill, or to change something for the better, but in myself these same challenges feel like catastrophic failings?
I know I’m not alone in feeling like this. In feeling like I am constantly not ‘good enough’. In focussing on the things I have done wrong far more than the things I have done right.
In focussing on the end result, rather than the journey and the process.
I may well be overthinking the whole thing, but I do wonder how much our modern, consumer society contributes to this?
We are all constantly bombarded with ads that tell us we need the latest thing new x, y, or z to make us happy. That our lives are somehow lacking, incomplete, without All The Things. If something breaks, we replace it. We no longer live with those imperfections or attempt to make them better. We just ditch them and move on to something newer. Something perfect.
As a society, we no longer treasure our things, and repair them, and really really commit to them and love them.
And maybe that reflects on how we see ourselves too.
Social media has made everything so much more visual. There is this emphasis on style and appearances, possibly at times over substance. It is so much easier to photoshop our lives, to airbrush out the bits that we don’t want people to see, and to only show the edited highlights, the bright and shiny bits.
And when we see other people’s edited highlights, those curated moments, we look around at our own lives, at the dirty washing piled up in the corner, and the pile of job rejections, and the bags under our eyes, and that is all we see. It not only makes it hard to see the good bits, it makes it hard to see that the bad bits can also be the good bits. The bad bits are the bits that teach us things, are the things that make us stronger, and allow us to grow. But we never see anyone else’s bad bits. They are hidden behind the gloss of social media, or behind the front that we present to the world because of this perception that we all seem to have that our imperfections somehow make us vulnerable, and somehow ‘less’ and should be hidden away.
Wabi-sabi is a concept that I have only just stumbled across (previously I think I confused it with wasabi, which is not the same thing at all) and according to Wikipedia is a “Japanese world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is ‘imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete'”.
I am totally on board with that.
We can all be beautiful, and perfect, precisely because of our imperfections, and our feelings that we are somehow ‘not enough’ or incomplete.
We all need to be kinder to ourselves, and more open with each other.
I think especially online, it can be so easy to just show the end result, the finished product. And not the blood, sweat and tears, the excruciating paralysing indecision and the agony of the mistakes made. We don’t see that. We don’t talk about that. And because we don’t see it and we don’t talk about it, other people (OK, me) assume that it’s been easy. That it just happened. I see the finished, perfect, shiny thing, and I assume that it’s only me who struggles, who can’t move forwards because of the overwhelming fear of failing. And that fear paralyses me, and stops me moving forwards and growing, and making mistakes.
It’s time to embrace the imperfections, the journey, the detours along the way. It’s time to stop focussing on the end result, and instead concentrate on what the process can teach me, how it can help me grow, even (and this is radical thinking here) how much fun it might be.
Does anyone have any tips for helping to do this?
It all sounds fabulous in my head, but old habits die hard, and I suspect that this journey of embracing my imperfections, of wabi-sabi, might be a case of two steps forwards and one steps back. But that’s OK. In fact, it seems only proper that this particular journey should be an imperfect one.