Imperfection

Today my neuroscience professor told me I don’t need to be perfect all the time.

He was talking about academics because he had witnessed my anxiety over my midterm and my continued anxiety as I’ve been debating whether I should switch this course to pass/fail or stick it out for the mark.

But I’ve been thinking about perfectionism and how this impacts my life..

i know I am not perfect. I am far from it. In the past few weeks especially, I have been seeing my own imperfection in deeper ways.

As an introvert, I keep many of my struggles inside my head, only telling a few trusted people the ins and outs and sometimes not saying it all. I care about people and can often set aside my own feelings and capacity to attend to needs. I am smart and capable and have read and done a lot of interesting things which can make me appear knowledgeable and put together when really I’m spewing off a bunch of bullshit. In my times of crashing, I have often been met with responses of how people had no idea of how much I am struggling or that they had no idea that I was struggling at all.

As a result of these things, people refer to me as a sweet heart. I am called a hero and people look up to me. I am told that I am strong and courageous. I’m told all sorts of lovely things actually – things that I honestly find hard to see when I look in the mirror.

But I need to be honest – I often feel that I am not allowed to be anything but perfect. Let me explain.

I am utterly and completely human. I have bad days and good days. Some days I can say pretty offensive things. Some days I can react poorly. Some days I’m too stubborn to see your point of view.

Often I feel like there is an expectation for me to extend grace and love when someone else is going through a rough time.  To react perfectly. To say the right things. To respond the right way.

And when I don’t, my words seem to be held against me. Words said in distress. Words said when I am not having the best of days. I am responsible for those things, yes, and I typically come to regret them. But I feel like so often my imperfection is met with anything but grace. And so is it really safe for me to be anything but perfect? I try really hard to understand where people are coming from and what factors have gone into comments. I do try to give the benefit of the doubt. Not always. but I try. But I often feel like I am written off without the whole of me being taken into consideration.

I get frustrated and angry – and say stupid things. I argue over mute points. I am sarcastic. I am impatient. I am judgemental. I can laugh at someone’s expense. I can fail to care. Oh how I fail sometimes – do you know how often I feel like a complete failure in life because of my own short comings? Sometimes this feeling of failure is skewed by depression. But often it is just a grief-stricken look at how I actually do fail to love, to serve, to care or to even try.

If I give off the impression everything is fine, then I’m sorry – for that is not the full picture. There is so much that I don’t share. Sometimes I feel like if I share I am complaining too much or people don’t really need to know. Sometimes the timing just doesn’t seem right. Sometimes I am in a bit of a dissociative state which is both a positive and negative thing as it allows me to get through the moment without being connected to my feelings. In a crisis, this comes in handy – but when it dominates it’s a real pain in the neck.

I am not sleeping much these days. Even with heavy sedating medication, it takes me hours to fall asleep. And then my sleep is disturbed by nightmares. Trauma memories have been coming up for me in really painful ways to the point that I’ve sought out additional support to help me get through this time. I miss my family dearly. Christmas is coming which is a season I hate and I tend to long for my family and end up crashing afterwards – something that I am trying so very hard to prevent from happening this year! I fear a retrial and going through that hellish experience again. I love school and my two jobs – but it is stressful…. and, this is what my prof was getting at today, I am wanting excellent (perfect!) marks and working my butt off to attain them… and I am, but I’m stressed. I’m grieving the loss of super close friendships that have changed due mostly to life circumstances. Finances, while they are on the up and up, are a continued stressor. I have friends that I am really worried about who are going through terrible times. I have random panic attacks throughout the day that can last from minutes to an hour or so and the triggers have been practically impossible to ascertain. i’m struggling with old patterns of self-harm urges that thankfully with God’s continued support I’ve been able to resist but I feel like I am at war with myself. I have several health issues that are becoming increasingly problematic and I’m waiting to see a specialist in a couple of months. Sometimes I can’t stop shaking and my heart is racing and the pain in my chest is fierce because of the amount of stress I feel. Typically tears come at least once in the day.

I am not asking for sympathy – people who know me well know that I balk at such things. I’ve kinda adopted an “it is what it is” attitude about everything that is going on in my life and striving towards wholeness in the midst of the insanity. Honestly, my relationship with God has only deepened through this intense time as God is the only constant refuge I have at the moment and he never sleeps or slumbers.

But I feel like I do need permission and grace to be imperfect.

I am imperfect. i say and do the wrong things. Often. I fail. I am not a sweetheart.

And yes – when I do or say or even think unloving things, I am wrong to do so.

But please love me and offer me grace anyways.

Cause I can’t be perfect all the time. Or even a lot of the time.

And sometimes, I am just as broken and messed up as the next person whose pain is all consuming and prevents me from seeing someone else’s needs or point of view. And sometimes I need a listening ear or love or a hug even if I appear on the outside to be fine. sometimes I need assurance that people love me and care for me and are thinking of me.

please see me trying to love. please don’t think the worst of me when I fail. please don’t write me off.

i need more love and grace than I can ever give even in my best moments.

for I am not perfect all the time

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