The Courage to be Imperfect

by Jon Hilton

look beyondI heard this phrase today, “the courage to be imperfect” and for some reason it stuck with me like Fruity Pebbles to the bottom of my cereal bowl.

How much time in life do we spend worrying about being perfect in all we do?  How often do we succeed and what would it mean if we were perfect?  All of these thoughts had me feeling like my head was spinning off. So I thought I had better write about it quick!

How much time in life do we spend worrying about being perfect in all we do?

population 0At first I thought really this can’t be very much time, but in reality I know it is significant.  If you are a writer like me, then every time you start to hit the publish button there is a brief moment of thought, did I say what I wanted? Is it any good?

Maybe I’ll just look it over one more time.  When I first started blogging it took me forever to publish anything because there was always something I could look at and see imperfection.

It affects the way we prepare for the day, the way we do our job, the way we approach parenthood, and even the way we approach our personal relationships.  It has been drilled into us that the perfect parents raise the perfect kids and life should be perfect all the time. If it isn’t then there is obviously something wrong with us.

I contest that we spend many of our waking moments stalking perfection in all of our roles of life and when it doesn’t happen, chastise ourselves unnecessarily.  It seems a bit unhealthy to strive to look, act and live perfectly in everything that you do. Seems like we are creating a lot of stress for nothing.

How often do we succeed at perfection?

excellenceI don’t know much but I know that no matter how hard we try we will never succeed at achieving perfection.  That sounds harsh as I write it but I challenge anyone to show me something that is totally, 100% perfect in every way to everyone.

It will not happen because by definition human beings are not perfect.  You may come close to perfection in your efforts but there will always be something that wasn’t or isn’t quite right.

Does that mean you give up? Not to me, I think that in all things we should strive for perfection.  Why wouldn’t you? When you fall short of the impossible, be less hard on yourself.  Many of the greatest and most memorable things we do in life will be in pursuit of something that can never be.  When it is all said and done even though you will find that perfection slips out of your grasp, the journey of the attempt will be a valuable teaching tool and a treasured memory.

We may never achieve perfection, but we can be perfect in our efforts and if that is the case then perhaps perfection is achievable after all.

What Would it Mean If We Were Perfect?

perfect fortunreI think the if perfection were achievable then the world would cease to hold as many wonders.  Excellence in some form or another would become commonplace and the rare beauty of action, mind and spirit that rises in all of us at some time would be taken for granted or just ignored altogether.

What is perfect anyway? Some cookie cutter form or figure that the main stream media has convinced you that you should emulate? Is there a perfect height? Perfect job? Perfect significant other? For each of us the idea of perfection would be slightly different in some form or another.  So since there are billions of people in the world, I would argue that the definition of perfection could never be agreed upon.

It would be a very boring world without the yoke of imperfection hanging over our head.  In all accomplishments in my life from the seemingly huge to the very minuscule there is something fantastic about experiencing victory or success despite our well-known shortcomings.

  The Beauty in our imperfections

The courage to be imperfect comes when we identify the beauty in our imperfections. They are the unique things about us that are a part of the package.  So we will still spend time to look good, but realize that the illusion of perfection is something that is not worth worrying about.

You are gloriously perfect just as you are, unfailingly and beautifully imperfect.

22 thoughts on “The Courage to be Imperfect”

  1. Wonderful message.
    I find it very hard to view myself with my imperfections. When I look in the mirror and don’t see the person I ought to be-perfect-I despair. When I get a test back with a score I don’t necessarily like-I despair.
    It is this illusion of perfection that I carry around with me like a faithful friend. This is me, imperfect and this is my friend, the person I should be-perfect. Except, like you said there is no such thing as 100% perfection.

    Perfect is who I am, right now, with all my baggage, emotional, physical everything. I need to accept that. Thank you for an enlightening message to help me do just that Jon! :)

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting Amba! You rock! There is no doubt that it is much more difficult to be a young woman than it is to be a man my age. You are constantly bombarded by media images of what the definition of perfection should be and that is a lie. You do not need to change anything to be awesome, you already are. We all have baggage we carry around with us full of insecurity and worry. As life comes you learn to empty it out a bit over time, but I still have some of mine with me. Understand, why I know how successful you will be. You have a lot going in your direction where it counts in the mind! Nobody can touch your intellect, creativity or your compassion. Even thought perfection can’t be achieved, a good friend commented that our imperfections often make us perfect. I think that is so. Treasure all of the things that are unique about you because they are a part of you. Personally I like who you are. :-) I am grateful for your comments always!

  2. I love the idea that it takes courage to be imperfect because it really does. It is easy to put on a facade of false perfection that you parade in front of others, or worse – yourself. Thank you for making me think! :)

    1. I am sure that you think plenty without any help from me! :-) I am so glad you commented and read this. I think we all put on a facade of perfection from the time we are young, there is pressure to do this or that and our failures and shortcomings are overlooked, hidden and ignored. You are so right, it is easy to pretend all is well, or to make it look like all is well for others. I think that if we all just were who we are, life would be much better. To me that starts with myself. Thanks again for reading, I am really appreciating your contribution. And I love your blog, that makes me think! :-)

  3. My imperfections have been hard to embrace, but the more I do, the better I feel. For a long time I thought it would be the opposite.

    1. Isn’t it kind of funny how that is? We work so hard to be or at least seem like we are perfect, we know what is going on and have a handle on things, yet at least I know it isn’t true. When I embrace my shortcomings life seems to move forward quicker. Strange how that is. Thank you Melanie for commenting, I always love to hear your thoughts. You are a good person with a lot to offer the world, don’t ever forget that. :-)

  4. Great post, Jon. I agree perfection is not just an illusion; it is a deterrent to happiness. We often suffer by comparing this present moment with our idea of what the perfection of this moment should look like. I like your phrase ” the beauty in our imperfections.” I would go even farther and say the perfection in our imperfections. I have enough faith in life to know that what I see as imperfection is just perfection from a different perspective. {{{Hugs}}} kozo

    1. Love that thought Kozo our imperfections are perfect because they allow us to achieve what we should in life! Thank you my friend for reading and commenting on my blog, I always gain great insight from you. Hope all in well in your world today! :-)

  5. My favorite part was “In all accomplishments in my life from the seemingly huge to the very minuscule there is something fantastic about experiencing victory or success despite our well-known shortcomings.” what a great sentence, it really struck a cord. It makes me feel like, heck yea I’ve come all this way despite all these shortcomings and obstacles I rock. This was another great post, thanks for sharing.

    1. You are welcome Raimy-D! I think we have all been there! Even though we are not perfect we are still great! That was my intention there, I am glad you understood and could relate to it. :-) I am so grateful for your participation, and your comment. Thank you so much!

  6. I agree with what you are saying and refer back to another of you posts when you achieved more by being in the moment. It is like all things – perfection in moderation. We all need to chil-lax :)

    1. That is the truth, we do need to Chil-lax! I have never typed that before so thanks for the new experience. Enjoy who you are and accept your imperfections as a part of who you are, not something to be ashamed of or be hidden. That is what I was thinking when I wrote it. Thank you so much for your contribution here, I am always grateful for your comments INFP! :-)

  7. I think when us people are 100% authentically ourselves, then we are perfect. What we see as inperfections in oursleves may be seen as perfections from another :) Hope that makes sense?

    1. That makes perfect sense Michelle and I agree with you. I got this idea from an awesome video I watched yesterday about how harsh we treat ourselves because of the fear of being seen as a failure or not being perfect. It rang true with me. I think that when we do all we can to be ourselves, any “imperfections” and I use that word only because it relays what I mean, become very treasured as a vibrant part of ourselves rather than something that has to be overcome. That was my thought when I started writing because I see so many people destroy themselves to be perfect rather than accepting the beautiful people that they are. In particularly young people seem to be vulnerable to this malfunction. I am grateful for your comment and participation on this. I love your contribution to my view of the world! :-)

  8. I have to say. I enjoy my imperfections. It makes me unique. It also makes me try harder to better myself. If we were all “perfect” we’d all be the same. But I guess the other side of that is, maybe our ideas of “perfection” vary so much that we can never achieve perfection as a whole. I’m convinced that imperfections are an attractive feature to possess. Not necessarily physical imperfectons as character flaws and differences. Some of my boyfriend’s imperfections are the greatest thing about him. Some of them make me laugh, some of them make me feel needed, and some of them are just adorable. That’s not to say that there aren’t imperfections in him that don’t try me utterly insane. But that’s the beauty of being human. Finding someone whose imperfections balance you out. Finding someone’S whose imperfections balance you out!

    I definitely hesitate before I hit publish on my writings as well. Sometimes I publish, reread and go back and edit. Several times. I think my biggest concern is “Did I get across what I was trying to say effectively?”

    1. I always do that publish thing but eventually you have to just let it go and hope you got across what you wanted to say. I used to be paralyzed by the fear of what others might think. I am sure there are plenty of people out there who do not like what I have to say. That is their business I think. I also agree that since no real definition of perfection can exist, then how do you achieve it? What is considered perfectly beautiful changes on a regular basis in all societies, so how can physical perfection ever be a goal? Thank you so much for reading and commenting Hope Rose, I really have appreciated your contribution.

  9. The courage to be imperfect, excellent phrase. Imperfections are hard to accept, but I guess we’d all be better off embracing them. Some days it takes me forever to publish a post, there’s always something wrong with it. I suppose I should learn to accept that I’m always going to find something wrong with it, no matter what. That’s what perfection is, practically unachievable. Because there’s always something better.

    1. You are the perfect you! I think that should have been the title of this, now that I look at it, but then I never would have published it. I believe that you and I are exactly what we should be because really what choice do we have? You can like yourself for all that you are or hate yourself because of some perceived imperfection. That is your choice in life I guess.
      I could tell you the reservations I always have before publishing anything, just look at my drafts there are probably about 65 which I started and thought, no that is just rubbish and put it away. I have also returned to this ‘rubbish’ and found some great ideas. Insecurity is a part of the game of life I guess.
      Thank you MFE I always look forward to your contributions. Makes my day! :-)

  10. Perfection would be boring. There would be no mystery, or intrigue, no adventure, no journey of learning and exploration.
    From a science perspective perfection is almost a bad thing – if there are no imperfections, no mutations, then there is no way to adapt to our world as it changes, and it is always changing. We need those imperfections so we can survive.
    From a writing perspective, without making mistakes we have no chance at learning from them, we will only ever be at whatever level is our “best fit.” We have no chance to explore the boundaries of our minds and be creative. We would be copies of one another.
    From a living perspective some of the best experiences in my life started out as mistakes. Some of them hurt. Some of them brought more joy than I knew possible. If I hadn’t been open to perfection I would have missed out on those, and I would be worse for it.

    While I try to proofread my work before hitting publish, I don’t get hung up on any of the mistakes I see after the fact. And I certainly don’t sit there and rework and rework and rework until the post is “just right.” Sometimes it’s better to go with the too small, or too big, too cold, or too hot. It’s good to mix things up.

    1. Well said Matt. I agree, perfection is boring. That is why it perplexes me so to see so many struggle to maintain a facade of perfection. Rather than enjoy who exactly they are and celebrate that. I have often been a victim of this mindset. As I said I still hesitate every time I hit publish, but then realize that if I don’t finish it is harder moving on. Most often the most interesting people are not perfect, the most intense experiences have a bit of unscheduled madness to them. That is just the way of life I think. I am grateful of course for the comment and the great thought. I have been out straight all day. Which really distracts from my blog reading. I am looking forward to seeing what has happened in the kingdom today. Thanks again Matt for the thought and participation!

Let me know your thoughts.