Book Reflection: The Gifts of Imperfection
It has been around 6 weeks since I have been writing a blog post on a consistent basis. I often struggle with consistency but the single most important thing that made this possible was embracing imperfection. I intended on writing a post on this book this past weekend but did not. Ironically, the thing that prevented me was striving for absolute perfection and feeling like why am I even bothering? It does not matter anyway.
It is now Monday evening so I had to use the learnings from this very book in order to write what you are reading right now. It taught me healthy striving is self-focused: "How can I improve?" Perfectionism is other-focused: "What will they think? Another thing that helped me was reminding myself that acting as if what we do makes a difference because it does. I had more insights into myself while reading this book than I have had in a really long time.
Shameful really. But I will continue to own my weaknesses.
Starting right now.
Growing up, I was not much of a reader. I was more of an avid science documentary consumer. I had a few friends that would recommend reading and I knew it would be beneficial but I just could not see the point then. It was like convincing someone to listen to your favorite song recommendation. Just not going to happen. But then through the Canadian public education system, it slowly dawned on me that, books are one of the most important inventions in human history. Missing out would be stripping myself of something so valuable which would not be wise.
Now that I am on the other side, I have become the "reading recommender". Now, I read hard copies, electronic versions, and audiobooks. This particular one happened to be an audiobook. For me, as much as the content was great to learn, I think I will primarily remember this book for the way it made me feel during a difficult phase of life. For a week straight, as I would be done with my day, I went on sunset walks for around 30 minutes to an hour. Listening to the book as I was on the walk felt like a gentle warm hug because the tone of the book was refreshingly conversational.
The voice was of Dr. Brene Brown. I first found out about her a little over a year ago through her ted talks. I was immediately drawn to her for her ordinary, relatable, and authentic persona. She is someone that lays it all on the table and lives life all in. The book is no different. It is filled with anecdotes of her own vulnerabilities, imperfections, and dealing with countless accounts of shame. She is one of the people I have to thank for instilling some degree of emotional intelligence in me.
The central theme of the book is the concept of "wholeheartedness" and combating perfectionism and shame with worthiness. She defines wholehearted living as follows:
"Wholehearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It's going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid but that doesn't change the fundamental truth that I am worthy of love and belonging."
She made me realize worthiness does not have any prerequisites and at the heart of it, we are worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love and belonging now. Right this minute. As is.
Another important lesson I took from the book is about getting the nuances of vulnerability right. Sometimes we can open up or guard ourselves off in an untimely manner but Dr. Brene dives deep into the anatomy of vulnerability. I now understand that although it is very important, is the indicator of courage, and is a necessary risk in order to experience connection, doing it with the wrong people at the wrong time can have inverse effects.
The following quotes stand out regarding this:
"Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: "Who has earned the right to hear my story?"
“If we share our shame story with the wrong person, they can easily become one more piece of flying debris in an already dangerous storm.”
There were so many more insights from this book that I wish I could write and do justice to but if I continue to make sure this blog post is perfect, I will never hit the publish button. As they say, great is the enemy of good. Another way I interpret it is to standardize and then only optimize. Trying to optimize something that does not even have a solid foundation does not make sense.
Thus, this is all for today.
I am here, still writing, still moving forward. And maybe that is enough.
The existence of this blog depends on it being enough.
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