Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Perfect Protest - Part 1

Today I'm joining in Brene Brown's "Perfect Protest."  In fact, I've been planning to join since Brene first posted on 9/26.  It just took me awhile to get my camera set up and learn to use the timer function so I could take pictures of myself holding signs! And yes, I'm brave enough to take the photos and post them here, but not to ask my family to take them for me and then have to explain why!

Brene's post arose as an outgrowth of the publishing of her book "The Gifts of Imperfection" which many of you noticed in my last Weekly Gratitude post.  You wanted to know what I thought of the book.  I should begin by saying that I have followed Brene's blog for going on two years and have also read (and participated in the blog read-along) "I Thought It Was Just Me".  If you have read ITIWJM and followed Brene's blog for any significant time period, the stories and messages in Gifts of Imperfection will be familiar. There isn't much new here.  The advantage is that it is all in one place and easy to read and reference.  And unlike ITIWJM, this book leans less toward Brene the scholarly researcher and more toward Brene the chatty authentic blogger that you'd love to have for a friend.  I really preferred the more conversational style of this book.

Having finished my first read through, I am planning a second, slower read, where I will highlight the passages that are really speaking to me. Usually with a book of this type, I read it once determining my level of interest and commitment to the book. If my interest is low, the book is left in "like new" condition, to be passed on or donated somewhere.  If my interest level is high, the book gets a second read where I feel free to mark it up, knowing that it will become part of my permanent collection. This book fits the second category! Definitely a keeper and worth the price.

Since planning this post, the Universe has been sending perfection messages my way everywhere I turn. The October 3rd passage from "Simple Abundance" tells me that "aspiring to be Little Miss Perfect is an addiction of low self-worth." 

I know this truth first hand. When I was young, I put pressure on myself to be "perfect" because I thought that was the only way my Mom (my step-mother who raised me) would love me and want to keep me.  So I pushed myself to be helpful at home, get "perfect" grades at school, and always be the kind of daughter you wouldn't want to leave behind when the divorce came. And ultimately my strategy worked. When I was 13 and my Mom and biological father finally split, my Mom kept me. Which reinforced a learned pattern that perfection was necessary for survival. 

That unfortunate misconception carried through college, law school, my early career, and early motherhood. In college, when I struggled and was failing a course, I dropped it. If I couldn't do something perfectly, I wasn't likely to attempt it in the first place. I held myself back. I got in my own way of success, opportunity, and learning. 

Early motherhood was a mess. I wanted to present my "perfect" children to the world. Such was not to be. Luckily for them, they had minds of their own and enough self-esteem to be their perfectly imperfect little selves. They still do. And I hope they know that I love them, deeply and fiercely, just the way they are!

Now I know, without a doubt, that my Mom would have loved me even if I didn't bring home straight A's. And I know that I AM ENOUGH, just as I am. I can unabashedly and without apology publish less than stellar photos of myself just to make a point. And I know that none of my lovely blog readers would have even noticed the poor lighting and focus in the photos if I hadn't pointed it out.

Shout outs to Amy and Lee who already joined The Perfect Protest.  More perfection messages from the Universe! 

"Simple Abundance" closes its October 3rd passage with this thought: 

"Upon completing the Universe, the Great Creator pronounced it 'very good.' Not 'perfect.'"

Apparently even he thinks perfection is over-rated.


quiltingfool said...

Love, love, love the red bridge picture, and the red Mums as well. How neat that you "saw" the perfect photo that could be had only at a certain time of day. Thank Tracey for that, making us notice things we might never have seen before. Your "less than perfect" confessional is awesome. I wonder if anyone in your immediate family knows you as well as you have allowed your blog followers to know you? I'm so glad you can look back now and realize that your quest for perfection was self-induced and not expected by anyone in your life. Brought about by the unfortunate circumstances of your early life. And now you know that your Mom and your Mother both loved you just as you are, even if maybe both of them made many mistakes that made you think otherwise. Neither of us was perfect either, and as you say "perfection is overrated". But you are, have been, and always will be loved just as you are, no matter what.

Anonymous said...


Sian said...

Fabulous! I felt very close to you looking at those photos and then I read your journaling and knew exactly what you meant. I'm joining the protest! x

Amy said...

Too right! Perfection is such an impossibilty, no fun anyway ;-)

Unknown said...

Oh Cheri, once again I am aware of how much alike we are and the similarity of what we did to ourselves growing up. I will need to look into this further and perhaps join the protest. BTW, I love your hairstyle... quite different and shorter than your profile photo. LOVE it!

humel said...

Super, super post, and I love the photos. Good for you, Cheri xx

humel said...

Super, super post, and I love the photos. Good for you, Cheri xx

humel said...

OK, I'm so far from perfect that I posted my comment twice - but I'm not going to worry about it! ;-)

Kelly Miller said...

I am buying the book now!

Cheryl said...

Oh, how I love this! Those photos warm my heart. I think I need to read that book. I've been trying really hard to overcome my need for perfection (I, too, dropped college courses I wasn't passing with flying colors), but old habits are really hard to break. Heading to Amazon now... TFS!

Beverly said...

Thanks for sharing about perfection, I had forgotten that I wanted to do that pic, will try to this week. Also want to thank you for sharing the Oct 3 Simple Abundance :)