“You don’t have to be perfect at something the first time. In fact, you never have to be perfect at all.”
My daughter was discouraged. She’s been making resin jewelry, and the first few pieces did not turn out so well. I seized the opportunity to discuss the idea of imperfection. First of all, she is only 11 years old. Second, “You don’t have to be perfect at something the first time,” I told her. “In fact, you never have to be perfect at all.”
If only we adults could believe that, we would be far healthier. Perfection doesn’t exist, and in chasing it we not only become exhausted but also miss out on the learning opportunities that life is trying to deliver. Maybe we need to embrace wabi sabi.
“Wabi sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete, the antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring, and monumental,” writes Leonard Koren, the author of Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. As Gretchen Roberts so gracefully reflects in her essay for Whole Living, “Wabi sabi is asymmetrical heirloom vegetables and handmade pottery, crow’s feet, and the frayed sleeves of a favorite wool sweater, exposed brick and the first draft of a difficult letter. You won’t find wabi sabi in Botox, glass-and-steel skyscrapers, smart phones, or the drive for relentless self-improvement. It’s a beauty hidden right in front of our eyes, an aesthetic of simplicity that reveals itself only when animated through the daily work of living.”
The daily work of living. Work. That’s a process, not a destination. Perfection is a gleaming city where we can never arrive. But daily work, that, my friend, is a path we are already on. Here are some affirmations for embracing imperfection.
- Being human is messy, and that’s okay.
- “You are enough. You are so enough. It is unbelievable how enough you are.” —Sierra Boggess
- There is only one me.
- I am genuine. I am real.
- “Creation is ready to serve you, if you just be you.” —Yogi Bhajan
- I am miraculous just the way I am.
- I am worthy of love.
- A huge part of success is making mistakes.
- I turn toward my difficulties instead of trying to fix them instantly.
- Mistakes can lead to great new ideas.
- What is most “imperfect” about me may in fact be my best qualities.
- When I mess up, I easily move on.
- I can clearly see the beauty and joy in my life.
- I release the need for approval from others.
- My goal is wisdom, not perfection.
- If goals are unrealistic, I find a space where imperfection is considered acceptable.
- “Have no fear of perfection. You’ll never reach it.” —Salvador Dali
Want more? Read 15 mantras for healing.