Little Ms. Perfect

by

Have you ever forgotten that you are human? Not with regard to having arms, legs, fingers and toes, but with regard to acknowledging that you are capable of having imperfections. Not only are you capable of having them, but they are inherent to this experience we call life.

Well, at times, I must say that I have forgotten this basic nugget of wisdom. I guess it stems from my desire to be perfect in all that I do—especially when it comes to how I interact with the ones around me. You know, when I am not being a good perfectionist, and the reality of my imperfections comes within plain view—it is as if someone turned the power off of “Little Ms. Perfect,” and I am left immobilized…frozen…stuck…

The good thing is that after I regain the ability to move again, I am comforted by the realization that my imperfections are real, but they aren’t inherently bad. They provide opportunities for self-reflection, self-examination, and ultimately growth.  Challenges and shortcomings are the process agents in life that help to shape us as individuals—the defining factor is how we choose to use them. They can be stepping stones or obstacles, acknowledgements or excuses, addressed or dismissed—the choice is ours.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be stuck in this “cycle of perfectionism” filled with failed attempts at being perfect and realizing again and again that I am indeed not perfect.   Instead, I want to set realistic expectations to address obstacles and challenges in my life without the false expectations of perfectionism.

Interestingly, Dr. Carol Dweck—a world renowned psychologist who studies achievement and success at Stanford University—has found in her research that people are more likely to succeed when they adopt a growth perspective (an understanding that achievement requires continuous and concerted effort). This growth perspective involves addressing shortcomings instead of overlooking them.

This tidbit of information reinforces the fact that I that I don’t have to leave my imperfections unattended. But, I think that it is important to address challenges in a manner that isn’t self-defeating. No longer should the goal be to be a perfect person, but I want to be a better person—a person who is successful with improving the areas in which I am weak and reaching out to others when I need a helping hand. Embracing this side of life helps me to love myself more, and it also helps me to love others more.

Not requiring perfection from myself has naturally caused me to stop requiring perfection in others. Perfect things and perfect people are often like robots—lifeless and set to following programs, which leaves no room for creativity or learning experiences. With that being said, I have a lot of classrooms to enter and many outlets for creativity. But in the end, I will be in the process of becoming a better person, not a perfect person. So, I say cheers to creative and meaningful living! What about you?

Cassandra Kirkland, M.S.

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