If you’re not completely familiar with me and who I am, then you may not know that I was once a competitive gymnast. Gymnastics was my life, and I truly did love the sport. However, it brought out a side in me that I’ve been trying to combat ever since: that of a perfectionist. On that note, I’ve been trying to actively give myself grace and accept the flaws that are inevitably a part of me. But maybe I’ve been going to both ends of the extreme instead of taking away probably the most important lesson of gymnastics: balance.
It’s great to wholeheartedly accept the person you are and what you’re all about, but in that same breath, we also have to realize that we do have flaws that we shouldn’t just cast off to the side. After all, how do we grow if we don’t look at what could be improved upon? It’s as though with the latest body positive movement, self-care emphases going through the roof, etc. that we have learned to have tunnel vision. Take yourself as you are, and choose not to see whatever imperfections lie below, even if they’re detracting from your quality of life. It’s natural to have flaws, but it’s wise to address them to see if they lie in habits we need to change.
That being said, while I understand that I’m a culmination of my time to this point and accept the person I’ve become, I also need to recognize my flaws. These aren’t things we normally project onto social media (unless you consider a trendy makeup-less selfie to relay that message), but we’ve all got ’em. So here are a list of five of my flaws that I’m attacking head-on because they take away from “living my best life”, as they say.
1. Nail Polish Pressure
So, I’ve got this thing. I always, compulsively almost, have to have my nails perfectly painted. No chips, no smudges, you know the drill. If I don’t have my nails done for a weekend out, or a concert, or a family get together, then I internally freak out a little bit. It’s as though a piece of me is missing. I usually try to rush to do them quickly before the given event, which almost always ends with me messing them up beforehand and panicking that I don’t look put-together enough. In the end, literally no one is looking at my nails but me, and if they do notice, they usually even compliment them. There is no need to associate my preparedness or even part of my worth in the state of my nail polish. Logically, that sounds ridiculous, and quite frankly, I’m tired of that slight obsession taking up my headspace.
To revise this train of thought, I’ve been embracing my natural nails more of the time. This way, chips and smudges become a nonissue, and painting my nails becomes what it actually is: a form of self-care and something to look forward to. Instead of a need to do them, I want to do them. This is the most superficial of the flaws, but it’s worth mentioning because it is something that becomes consistent and slightly takes away from experiences I should be fully embracing.
2. Running Late All. The. Time.
This one is self-explanatory. I run late to work, to church, meeting up with friends, seeing my boyfriend, and even on things like posting on this very blog. The issue is blatant, and I arrive to things feeling frazzled and embarrassed. It’s something that has been going on as long as I can remember, and it’s only going to pose more problems in my future if I let it carry on.
To try to reverse this overbearing problem, I’m changing my mindset. If I need to be somewhere by 10:00, I plan my time and think as though I need to be there for 9:40. This way, I can give myself time for unforeseen circumstances and usually get to places before I need to be. Being on time isn’t just about me, it’s about respecting the other people involved in my life, and I owe them that.
I’ve been over-organizing in my little planner since middle school. I would write out a timetable of exactly when I would start and finish assignments, even scheduling things like meals. This has continued on into adulthood, but it has failed me every time. I love the planning part, but I never follow through. Why? Because I’ve put myself into a box, and life doesn’t work that way. It’s far too much pressure to put myself on a schedule every minute of every day. There needs to be wiggle room and some freedom. Structure, not play-by-play.
Because I do like to have an idea of what I need and want to get accomplished on a given day, I’ve switched up my format to more of a list. I simply write out the things I’m to do (action to paper works, my friends), and cross them off throughout my day when I get the chance. If I have appointments or events to attend, then I jot those in where appropriate for reference. No more timetables aside from when I need to be somewhere (on time, no less ;). Sometimes, it’s not the entire action that is detracting, but the way you’re achieving it. Organization is healthy and a key to success, but you know what they say: “Too much of a good thing isn’t such a good thing”. Noted.
4. Settling for less
I’ve never been a confrontational person. In that sense, it can be hard for me to ask for things that I want or say no to something that is less than I deserve. This is exactly the trait that makes it very easy for me to settle for less in different areas of life. Past relationships, jobs, friendships, and events have suggested that I allow myself to be held at a certain standard (lower than I should be) in different ways, and I haven’t objected. I sat there and didn’t confront. I settled for less. But that isn’t something healthy. It will deplete our confidence and self-assurance, and make us question ourselves along the way.
I’m learning that by standing up for yourself, you don’t have to be confrontational, you only have to be true to what you know is right. I’m setting standards for myself, and knowing that my time, my energy, and my talents have a lot of worth attached to them. Appreciation doesn’t have to equal monetary compensation, either, but it should at the very least be in its truest form: fair and encouraging treatment. Don’t settle for less where you aren’t being treated fairly and appreciation is absent. Instead, I’m aiming for sticking to my own standards and learning to either ask for the things that meet them, or saying no. Otherwise, I’m doing myself a disservice.
5. Stifling my creativity
This one is probably the most important on this list. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve dampened my own creativity. It sounds counteractive and strange, but I swear it’s true. I’ve held back on my own writing, often procrastinating and putting it off until “later”. I’ve gotten lazy in writing down ideas and let them slip away. I kept myself at arm’s length away from my writing, perhaps because I was afraid to fail following my failed engagement, or I was so wrapped up in other things going on (school, work, etc.) that I couldn’t “justify” setting aside time to write. I convinced myself that what I had to say wasn’t a priority, and in that way, I stifled my creativity and thus let go of my own voice. I got out of the creative mindset in a way that made it feel foreign when I did sit down to write. I didn’t like that, and I cringe right now just thinking about it.
I’m not holding myself back anymore. If the creative spark is there, I own it. The other day, I had so many ideas swimming around, I had to have a quick jot right then. I happened to be driving at the time, so I pulled into a restaurant parking lot and wrote out my ideas until my creative craving had been satiated. I pulled out of that parking lot (without having eaten anything from the restaurant and possibly looking crazy to those that had been chatting in the parking lot after their meal) feeling rejuvenated and fulfilled. Goodness, I’ve missed that. I’m so glad I’m letting myself be creative again. I’m giving myself permission. I’m reclaiming my voice like Ariel in The Little Mermaid (lot of references to her in this series, but come on, she’s pretty cool!). It’s still a bit unnatural and robotic at first, but it’s in motion. I’m beyond thrilled.
In both of the paragraphs I wrote for each flaw, I’m setting myself up. In the top paragraph, I’m setting myself up for failure. But in the bottom paragraph, I’m setting myself up for success. The phrase is the same at its core, but the details make it different in the two instances. It’s the same in the flaw scenarios; I don’t have to restructure my whole life in order to improve upon these fixable flaws, I just need to switch up some of the details. The small choices in the day-to-day matter, and they’re ultimately how we can recognize our improvable flaws and grow as people.
I’m learning that there’s a balance in everything, including our flaws. There are some that are just a part of us that we need to understand and embrace, and there are others that we can change in order to better ourselves. It’s important to strike that balance between being overly critical of ourselves and being self-righteous. So, here are mine. Some of my greatest flaws are laid out on the table, and you know, it feels good. I’m tired of concealing things in order to create a certain online persona. I’m not flawless and I don’t want to come off that way anymore. When we acknowledge our flaws and make little changes to better the ones we can, that’s when our true voice is going to come through because the need to conceal will be gone.
At the heart of the Get Honest Project is this need to discover or rediscover our voice as creative people. I want to do that authentically. Perfection is not a part of that equation for any of us. It’s important to recognize that we aren’t perfect, our creative abilities aren’t perfect, and our voices won’t be perfect, but that’s something we should celebrate within the journey. Fight some flaws, but honor others, because that’s what makes you beautifully human.