Failing All Over Myself

Being found wrong or imperfect ignites in me a cornered animal savage snarl. I don't know if failure is a common nightmare among children, but for as long as I can remember it's been my greatest fear. A quiet agreement rattling around in my subconscious asserted that my worth was tied to perfection. Maybe at the end of a semester of straight As, as soon as my thighs gapped, when my hair was smooth and tame, as long as I never ever said or did the wrong thing...THEN! Then I would be worthy of love and respect.

My whole life has been spent gripped by the fear of Fucking It Up. This didn't stop me from being passionately curious and eager to learn, but as soon as things got a bit too challenging and the possibility of failure loomed, I would bolt. I honestly expected myself to be good at everything, even things I was just learning. When caught in a mistake, my gut reaction was fear-fueled resentment and rage. I have had no resilience to the experience of being seen as unmasterful.

Earlier this year, I left home to travel the world and immediately began amassing mistakes. I bought a backpack with mixed reviews based solely on its appearance, and it ended up being pretty terrible to carry. I've been knowingly hustled at least twice but there were surely more instances of which I'm unaware. I severely underestimated the effect that Vietnamese New Year would have on the country, and had to fly places because all the trains were sold out. Speaking of flying, last month I missed an international flight because I'm an arrogant jerk about airport arrival time, and, until then had "never missed a flight!" Recently to save a few dollars, I booked a hostel in Singapore that was actually awful. Seriously, just pay the extra money.

Is it an incredible privilege to be traveling around the world making mistakes? Yes. Does that make them less painful? Not really. In fact, because they've often happened in vulnerable moments, each misstep has generated a disproportionate feel of urgency. After a few months of consistently not getting it right, I started to be worn down by my highly charged reactions to these moments. In my exhaustion, the possibility emerged for surrender. As uncomfortable as it's been, I have been finding more ease in being found imperfect. And in this place of resignation, a wonderfully relaxing, liberating thought arose...
"I'm not here to perfect anything."

Perfection is neither real nor attainable. Human beings are inherently flawed, and we spend our lives disappointing ourselves and others, making messes with unskillful behavior, and not measuring up. We may experience moments of sublime glory but they will be replaced shortly by some sort of failure. It's the difficult, inescapable truth of our condition here. We can try our best to do our best, but the circumstances won't always be present for Best. Just Okay will be all we can muster sometimes, and we have to make peace with that.

Here are some things that I will no longer attempt to perfect...
-my body (it's a daily miracle and my home and I will not wage war on it)
-my actions (try to do no harm, take no shit, try to do some good)
-my relationships (we're going to hurt each other. we'll try not to, but it's okay if it happens. we are not individually perfect so cannot possibly be perfect together)
-the people I love (y'all are weirdos, thank goodness. I see you clearly and love you for all of who you are. yes, even that)

A life newly freed from the pursuit of perfection blossoms with exciting possibilities. Each time I think "I'm not here to perfect anything," my mind and body relax a bit more. I feel safer in my own presence; shamed slices of my being, hardened from a lifetime of criticism, warm and melt as spring thaw. Bold choices, ripe for failure, become a modicrum more exciting and a little less frigntening. My worth sets deep roots into firm soil, to be disconnected from and unmoved by mistakes made. A fresh calm washes over me embracing that I cannot control or perfect the people in my life. I can only meet them and their imperfections with love and the humility to see that I require that same sort of grace.

If you're like me and you've spent your life battling it out with your own natural imperfections, I invite you to end the war. Refuse the subconcious agreement that you must be perfect in order to be worthy of happiness and good care from yourself and others. Human beings are inherently flawed but nonetheless we are also inherently worth loving. If you hold off being happy until everything is "perfect," you will die in dissatisfaction, still struggling to attain an impossible illusion. That is not for you.

You are not here to perfect anything.

You will not be the one who finally achieves the unachievable.
You will never be a flawless master.
You will fail, sometimes in ways that really matter.

It doesn't mean that you can't try to do the best thing for the moment.
It doesn't mean that you don't deserve good loving.

What fresh possibilities would blossom for you if you refused to frightfully pursue perfection?

May you discover this for yourself.


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