Embracing Imperfections in Ourselves and Others

author wearing a brimmed hat and sunglasses at a sporting event

Did you have a favorite stuffed animal as a child? Did you have a bear? Or another animal? My favorite was a small stuffed monkey which I promptly named “Monk”. I loved Monk very much. The more worn Monk became, the more I loved him. The more faded he became, the more I clung to him. Monk fit comfortably under my arm when my mom tucked me in at night. Monk also provided comfort and security to me. 

Eventually, I packed Monk away for storage. He was showing signs of wear and tear. He was not perfect. 

Speaking of perfect, I am one, a perfectionist. Not a perfect person. I like things to line up and make sense. It is like a math equation when both sides are equal or balanced.

Planning and Preparing…and Letting Go of Control 

I like to plan and prepare. I want things to go just as I anticipated. As a person with low vision, one of the things that causes me the most stress is uncertainty. Navigating unexpected events can be frustrating.  

One of the things I continue to struggle with is the idea that the world is not perfect or consistent. While I prefer a balanced equation, that is often not the case. By allowing myself to make mistakes and realizing I can’t always be perfectly prepared for every situation, I have started allowing the same for others. 

Handling the Stress 

Here are ten steps from the American Psychological Association that I think are great ways to help deal with the stress of letting go of perfection: 

  1. Be kind to yourself. 
  1. Reflect on past successes. 
  1. Develop new skills. 
  1. Limit exposure to news. 
  1. Avoid dwelling on things you can’t control. 
  1. Take your own advice. 
  1. Engage in self-care. 
  1. Seek support from those you trust. 
  1. Control what you can. 
  1. Ask for help. 
a pencil drawing of a person's face wearing sunglasses

Practicing Self-Care 

Taking care of yourself is important. Self-care comes first. It is important to care for yourself before you care for others.  

For example, I learned some things about self-care from my roommates. One guy wanted to drop weight very fast. So, he limited his calorie intake so much that he was always grouchy. He had trouble sleeping. He had difficulty concentrating.  

This roommate also loved chocolate. Once, my mom sent me a big care package with special date-filled cookies (dates are a good way to increase fiber and not get dehydrated. I guess my mom was looking out for me). Anyway, I was snacking on them one day after class, and he stopped and asked if that was the chocolate I was eating. He asked me the same thing again about an hour later!  

It was almost funny, but I had to tell him it was not chocolate. By watching what he experienced, I could see how simply eating when hungry and eating healthy food would impact how I treated others. Being understanding, patient, and even nice is hard if you are too hungry, angry, or tired.  

Embracing Imperfections 

As we go through life, whether as a college student or professional, we find things aren’t always perfect. Letting go of perfection and caring for ourselves helps us handle uncertainties better. Embracing imperfections helps us find balance and be kind to ourselves. It has also allowed me to understand, not judge, and even help others when needed.