Wednesday, June 10, 2015


(Warning: this piece uses the word "barf" twice. Oops, three times.)
As an annoyingly perfectionist little kid, I obsessed over my shortcomings, and went to great lengths to hide them (I probably wasn't fooling anyone). Flaws were mistakes, and mistakes were shameful. Hard work and constant self-improvement would win me the love and admiration of everyone, I was sure. I just had to keep pushing myself.  Not many children pull all-nighters in fifth grade, or obsess for years (okay, decades) about that mortifying day in kindergarten when they accidentally barfed on the little boy from down the street. All that hard work and self-flagellation, and I still didn't have any friends. So sad.
Many years passed, and the mistakes piled up. Eventually I could not function under their weight. So as an adult, I reformed. No, I did not finally achieve perfection. Or maybe I did, in a way.
I flirted with imperfection: arriving late, for example. Saying no. It felt dangerous and exhilarating. Gradually I realized that life did not have to be drudgery. I learned to smile. People seemed to kind of like the new me. Strange. I decided to embrace imperfection, to own it, to revel in it (okay, that's an exaggeration. Old habits die hard).
I reframed my idea of perfection, to think of myself not as imperfect but as fabulously flawed, like the antique with the crackled veneer or Johnny Cash, or the curry that looks like barf, but tastes delicious.
Am I only fooling myself? Maybe, but life sure is better this way.