Columnist and author Anna Quindlen was the woman who said, “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Anna was only the third woman in history to write her own column for the New York Times.
Hmmm, I’m not sure if someone who has not started the work of becoming his or herself could understand the powerful veracity of this statement.
As someone who used to be “perfect” (of at least came across as perfect) in almost every way, I can appreciate the truth of Anna’s words. It was a lot less risky for me to hide all of my failures, present myself in the best possible light, wear a smile everywhere I went, and have the answer to every problem than it is for me to confess my failures, be honest about hurt, or admit that most of the time I don’t know any of the answers.
This has been particularly hard recently. I have spent the last half year preparing for and applying to grad schools. In the end, I got 7 (of 8 ) rejections, and the only school that accepted me was the one that offers virtually no funding. This makes me feel like a failure. Makes me feel unintelligent. Makes me want to hide out. Makes me want to lie to everyone and tell them that I got in but decided not to go. Or lie to everyone and pretend that the rejection, the loss of a dream, the disappointment is not there. That I’m fine. That I’m happy as can be.
I’m not devastated. But I am disappointed, and I am grieving the loss of a dream.
Some days I hate being real. I hate being myself. Some days I wish I didn’t preach things like authenticity, and honesty, and intimate relationships. Because when I preach those things, it follows pretty logically that I should live them.
I’d rather be a coward. I’d rather be perfect.
But I know that I offer nothing when I don’t offer myself. When I offer perfection I’m offering a shell of a person that no one feels close to and everyone compares themselves to. I don’t want to be that. I don’t want to be some unrealistic standard that other women think they have to live up to. Because that’s just crap.
So, I guess that at some point I have to believe what I tell so many others, and own that what I have to offer- that my mess and my failure and my passion- is actually good.
My good friend Mel, has been on this journey as well. I’ve loved getting to know her and watch her on her journey of becoming a strong and genuine woman full of love and grace. Here is a blog post of hers, talking about the parts of herself she’s learned to own.
What do you have to own about who you are? In what ways can you become more of who you are?