Whatever our born experience or background: heritage, family situation, job, weight, height, skin color, and abilities: one thing that bonds us as humans, one thing we all have in common, is our shared human imperfection. Yet I see so many people around me scrambling to hide their shortcomings: on dates, in the workplace, as families and communities. The underlying, often unconscious expectation: Fake it till you make it! When people are watching—say and do the perfect thing.
It has taken me a long time to love my mistakes; to cherish the lessons.
As a child, I used to draw all the time, but as soon as I “messed up,” I’d crumple the page and start again. My mother would stop me and say: “Make your mistakes into art.” If I accidentally drew a sixth finger on my princess’s hand, I would make it into a purse. Thanks to my mom I saw that my mistakes could add new, often unexpected, life to my work.
Still, I’m so imperfect. I find it hard to relate to “perfect” people, whose hairs never seem out of place—who have it “all figured out.” I simply can’t relate. Often it seems, as exposed as we are, we are a culture in hiding; trying to deny that we don’t have all the answers. We are a culture of professionalism and perfectionism (a.k.a invulnerability, even coldness).
While perfectionism can lead us to strive, and has garnered some extraordinary results, it can be a source of great anxiety and denial. Just because we are imperfect doesn’t mean we aren’t incredibly beautiful AS IS; that we aren’t MORE than good enough; that we can’t do our BEST and AMAZING THINGS; that we can’t pursue our dreams. WE ARE and WE CAN!
Let’s bust this myth right now: Rejection and failure are not the same thing, nor are beauty and perfection. Rejection is simply a delay in something we wanted—a new job, school, love. Sometimes we are asked to wait for something greater than we imagine; greater than our concept of perfection. To me, perfection in the human realm is not flawlessness. Perfection, for us, is only achievable through the expression of authenticity, our unique feelings, perspectives, stories, our art. Authenticity is where honesty, acceptance, and identity meet and embrace. From there, an accepting and honest place, we can strive to be the best, or better versions of ourselves, every day. Imperfections are only “flaws” if we don’t acknowledge them or use them for something good.
If I didn’t have my disability, I would not know so thoroughly how kind New Yorkers can be. If I never make a mistake again, I’d have nothing left to learn, or live for. I’ve learned that I just want to be the best ME possible today. To me, our best is, not perfect, but diverse, uniquely beautiful, and so utterly worthy of every good thing! Knowing that I can’t be perfect (flawless), frees me to just be.
I’m Xian Horn and I’m Positively Positive!
Xian Horn is a joyful half-Asian woman with Cerebral Palsy, serving as writer, mentor, and positivity activist. A member of an international network of extraordinary women, 85 Broads, she was heralded by founder Janet Hanson as an “amazing role model for all women.” With her personal stories and ongoing mentoring work, Xian Horn is invested in contributing positively to self-esteem and the collective self-image, especially for women. To support her True Beauty efforts for people with disabilities, please join Xian’s Facebook community.