The Courage to be Imperfect
I recently discovered Brene Brown, a researcher storyteller that gave a Ted Talk on vulnerability and shame, courage and imperfection, that is so extraordinary I have since watched four times. It’s had 12+ million views, if that helps convince you to watch it.
The holidays are the perfect time to talk about being imperfect, are they not?
There are enormous expectations on each of us. Expectations about relationships, about our bodies, about our hostessing skills, about our careers, our grades, our accomplishments. These often take on the form of “shoulds”. I should be married by now or further along in my career. I shouldn’t be so tired, because after all, she does more than me. “Shoulds” steal our joy because we allow ourselves to be defined by what everyone else thinks we should be doing.
Why do we care so much about what everyone else is doing? We’ll get to this.
Brene spent six years interviewing people and collecting their stories. She heard every story imaginable and made a profound discovery. Thousands of people with every story imaginable could roughly be divided into two categories.
One: people with strong sense of love and belonging.
Two: people without a strong sense of love and belonging.
Do you know what caused the distinction between the two categories? It wasn’t terrible childhoods, abuse, neglect, or trauma. It wasn’t father wounds or the absence thereof. The only thing that separated the two groups of people was one characteristic: self-worth.
People with a strong sense of love and belonging simply believed they were worthy of love and belonging. And people without a strong sense of love and belonging lived with a deep sense of unworthiness.
Do you hear how powerful that is? We care what everyone else is doing and thinks we “should” do because we want love and belonging.
The word courage originally meant, “to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.”
When I think of courage, I picture a mighty warrior headed off to battle not a friend sitting down and telling me she fears she’ll drive away every man that comes close. Courage elicits imagery of people gritting their teeth and shaking their fists in the face of evil, not telling someone our whole story, including the things we’d like to forget.
So may you have the courage this holiday season to be imperfect. To tell your whole story, knowing deep in your heart that you are worth loving. For in this, you will be able to rest, knowing you are enough.
Join me in reading Brene’s books this holiday, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are
and Daring Greatly .
What sort of expectations do you try to live up to? Will you have the courage to be imperfect?