In Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection, she begins her chapter on cultivating self-compassion with this quote by Anna Quindlen, “The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” Brown, a research professor, has studied the paralyzing effects of shame and fear, and continues to research how to practice resilience in order to embrace our true selves. Every day we are slammed with doubt, especially on social media. Look at everyone. This friend travels the globe. That one sees her grandchildren every day. Wow, another lost 50 pounds! Her house is immaculate. He runs 10 miles every day. They seem to have the perfect marriage. How can my life compare with these images and posts?
The answer is in the Quindlen quote: “…embrace our true selves.” All of us, in order to learn to take care of ourselves, need to tattoo this on our foreheads. “Embrace our true selves.” Our crooked teeth, lumpy thighs, thinning hair, quick tempers, and dry skin are all integral parts of who we are. When we accept our “flaws” make us unique and fascinating, that is when we begin to love what we see in the mirror.
In my case it is learning to embrace my fibromyalgia. What I have discovered over the years and through major and minor flare-ups is to be compassionate with myself. This doesn’t define me. It is not who I am, but when the aches creep up and every nerve in my body tingles, I know it is time to slow down. I cancel plans. I rest. I read. I watch episodes of Gilmore Girls on Netflix. I acknowledge this is something I can’t control. It is my gremlin, but not my defect. As the Leonard Cohen song says, “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
Through this crack I have learned much about myself. I am allowing the light to flow through the windows. It is my gift of imperfection.
“Today, I’m going to believe that showing up is enough.” – Brene Brown