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how i learned to deal with imperfection by asking one simple question

Nobody is perfect.  This little concept took me over forty years to figure out.  Some may never get it, while others may know all along that perfection does not exist.  For me, I always was striving to be perfect and it was killing me along the way.


Here I am in all my imperfect glory.  No makeup, unwashed hair, my beloved robe, not so great photograph.  This is a normal sight in my house, and it is my favorite way to be.  Since I was a kid, I had it it my head that everything I did had to be 100% right, and if it wasn’t, I was let down or depressed.  This way of thinking intensified in high school when I started my running career.  In my mind, each race had to be a PR.  Each time faster than the one before.  I put so much pressure on myself to have optimal performances week in and week out and it was exhausting.  The pressure continued in college.  Each time I stepped on the starting line, I was filled with stress and anxiety and racing wasn’t even fun due to the crazy standards I set for myself.

Continuing into adulthood, then motherhood, I was always comparing myself to others wondering why my life wasn’t as great as theirs, or why I wasn’t as skinny or as happy.  It took me into my 42nd year to realize that I was trying to live up to something that was impossible to achieve.  I simply couldn’t do it all, and do it all to perfection.

It wasn’t until someone proposed this simple question:  What is the worst that can happen if…?  

Think about it.  What is the worst that can happen if:

…my house stays messy?

…the dishes stay in the sink until I get home?

…I don’t get to the grocery store that day?

…that load of laundry gets left unfolded?

…that green hutch in the corner of my dining room stays for a few more months?

…my students will have to wait an extra day to begin the fun project?

…I miss a day of running?

…we do takeout instead of a cooked meal?

To answer all of the above….not much.  I am speaking for me and some of my girlfriends out there (you know who you are)…we don’t need to be perfect all of the time.  It’s ok to give ourselves permission to just be, to live in the moment, and to not have to live up to this ideal image of a super woman|mom|wife|daughter|girlfriend that exists within us.

So in keeping with my more kindness|less anxiety theme, this little question is always present in my mind and it has helped me become a happier, healthier me.

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