I think a lot of people aim to be flawless. Or at least, they’re on a mission to become ‘perfect’ (whatever that means). It’s no surprise really, it’s an ideal pushed on us at every opportunity: the copious amounts of photoshop on magazine covers, the endless adverts for whitening toothpastes/mascara/weight loss products, the ‘top 30 under 30’ and ‘youngest billionaire’ lists designed to make us feel inferior… the list goes on and on and on.
It is pretty crazy, when you stop to think about it. There are so many things out there encouraging us to carve ourselves into smooth, marble statues of perfect proportions, beauty and purposefulness. And if you’re not everything, you’re nothing.
I’ve often thought about this topic, and how we, as mere humans, are meant to face this onslaught of pressure and dissatisfaction. I confronted these thoughts again recently, when I received a nomination for the Flawless Award from the amazing Johnzelle, who (rather ironically) writes over at Perfectly Imperfect. The point of this award is to recognise potential ‘flaws’ in ourselves and see them in a positive light. I think this is one small and simple way in which we can push against the ‘requirements’ of society, and so I thought I’d give this blog tag a go.
This is a characteristic society in general views as more negative than positive I’d say but one I’m trying to show does not have to be seen that way. I’ve touched on this before when I wrote about how society’s view towards introversion can be damaging. Throughout my school days, I was always told I needed to speak up more and be louder in class. Mainly so ‘other kids can benefit from your ideas’.
I’m all for sharing thoughts, clearly, or I wouldn’t write on the internet, but I don’t think standing in front of your peer group and talking is the only way to do this. This behaviour taught me that introversion is less valuable, loudness is desirable and being quiet is punishable. I think many wonderful things come from quiet people and introspection though – such as the power of written words.
Sometimes I’m easily overwhelmed; sometimes my emotions are as moldable as playdough. A lot of the things I feel, both emotionally and physically, are heightened to a level I don’t think most people experience. This can be viewed negatively: my level of tolerance for horror films for example, is very low. As is the amount of time I can put up with a waistband that squeezes my stomach only slightly (before my tummy starts cramping). If I’m not constantly on top of my to-do list, I’ll descend into a panic. All of this is of course quite inconvenient. But it does make me more aware of everything: I’m more observant of what’s going on around me and I take into account other people’s emotions.
By no means am I glorifying anxiety here, and you’ll know how much it bothers me when others do if you read my ‘Anxiety Is Not Pretty‘ post. But, as Johnzelle mentioned in his post, some good things do come out of anxiety. For me, this includes having a stronger awareness of myself and actions, a greater sense of empathy and compassion, and a good ability to plan.
I guess what this post, and this award in general, is trying to teach us is that not everything labelled as a ‘flaw’ is necessarily a negative characteristic. Or at least, not everything about the characteristic has to be seen negatively. In other words, by reframing our perspective, we can learn how to be ‘flawless’ (yep, there’s the sentence that relates to the clickbait title). In all seriousness though, I think this is an important concept to keep in mind – especially for people who have a tendency to talk to themselves negatively.
So the question is not how can we be perfect, but how can we learn to see the benefits of our ‘imperfections’. I think it’s also helpful to consider whether a ‘flaw’ we have is a societal view imposed on us which holds no value in being changed (such as reducing wrinkles) or if a ‘flaw’ we have is something that, by altering, will add real value to life (such as working on self-confidence in order to feel more comfortable). This isn’t a process of erasing bits of us we hate or punishing ourselves and talking negatively towards ourselves. It’s a process of demonstrating self-compassion, using kind words towards ourselves, questioning things we do and say in an inquisitive way and seeing the ways in which a more positive existence can be created.
But it’s also about being able to accept how we are now, and acknowledging that humans are not marble statues, or magazine covers. We’re okay as we are, and doing our best is good enough.
I challenge everyone reading this to think about something they’ve always considered a flaw in themselves and turn it around into something positive…
Oh, and make sure to head over and read Johnzelle’s post too 🙂
It was an absolute honour to be featured on the Student Minds UK blog recently, so if you missed that you can check that out here 🙂 I shared my thoughts on mental health and starting university.
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