Embracing Imperfection

I’ll do it.

This short phrase is my 19 month old daughter’s current rallying cry for freedom. Whether I’m feeding the dog and cat, wiping up a spill, or getting water from the refrigerator, I can rest assured that my daughter will be right behind me trying to do the job for me. And if I don’t involve her, there is a 100% chance that she throws herself on the ground in a fit of frustration and tears for not appeasing to her will.

I’ll get back to this story in a moment.

When it comes to humans and our relationships with others, there is a substantial amount of pain created by people not living up to our expectations. Whether it’s a significant other, a family member, a coworker, or a friend, we oftentimes build beliefs about who that person should and shouldn’t be. The vast majority of the time we do this subconsciously, erecting an image of the ideal version of that person based on our own experiences, circumstances, and understanding of the world. When they don’t live up to it, which they inevitably won’t, we feel pain in the form of anger, frustration, or sadness. We view their imperfections as unacceptable and want them to be fixed.

What we don’t see when this frustration bubbles up is that these imperfections are what create the room necessary for the characteristics that we love in that same person.

The disheveled desk of a coworker is the flip side of a brilliant and creative mind. The intense emotion from a significant other is the flip side of a deep commitment and obsession to greatness. The passive quietness in a family member is the flip side of a reflective and empathetic mind.

The imperfection makes room for the perfection.

Going back to my story about my daughter, “I’ll do it” can cause frequent frustration in my household. The intense will of a Roman Empire leader, bottled up in the 25 pound body of a toddler, makes for what seems to be an endless stream of tantrums and tears. Taken at surface level, this “imperfection” could be perceived as something broken that needs fixing.

When my frustration with a situation begins to rise up, I just have to think about how well this trait will serve Berkley in the future. What leads to a tantrum now will lead to greatness as she grows into the world. That ceaseless independence, curiosity, and desire to contribute will evolve into a force that puts the world in her palm in just a few short years. Much like pain is what makes room for joy, imperfection is what makes room for perfection. As long as we don’t try to fix it for them.

 

One thought

  1. Hmmmm…much to reflect about in this article. Being aware of your own self, enough to find empathy and understanding, in the face of perceived conflict and/or unmet expectations we place on others (realistic or not), can seem damn near impossible at times. Trying to be the “fixer of all things” seems to fall in the job category of Dad (although it certainly does not serve us well when we try that approach). When we can step back to let those in our closest relationships be “imperfect” and find the path that suites their needs, not ours, we can truly support healthy growth and offer our full value as parents, friends, colleagues, etc.

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