Imperfections are what make us beautiful

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I get really caught up in other people's perceptions of me. I waste so much time thinking someone will think negatively of me if I do or say something that I want, and wondering what I should do or say instead to be accepted by them.

Too often I abide in insecurity, thinking that what I want to do or say is "wrong" (or, more embarrassingly but probably more accurately, less cool) and that the opposite of what I want to say/do is "right" (read, more cool.) This is exhausting, frustrating and pointless because what ends up happening is that I disappear. Sure, I'm still a body physically standing in front of people, but my ideas, personality and thoughts are lost and I become just any girl, instead of the one and only Mia Pohlman.

The other day in my young adult literature class, my professor showed us the YouTube video called "Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability." In this video, Brown discusses her research findings on shame, vulnerability and connection. She talks about how vulnerability is a breeding ground of fear and shame, but also the birthplace of joy, creativity and love. In order to connect with others, she says, we have to be willing to be really seen, which takes the courage to "tell the story of who you are with your whole heart." She points out that it is our vulnerabilities that make us beautiful.

Sitting there at my desk in the darkened classroom, I was blown away. My young adult literature class was not a place I expected God to give me this illuminating gift of understanding.

Nearly everything Brown said in the video was God's truth speaking directly to my heart, dropping the missing piece in to all the frustrations I'd been struggling with and opening life up all around me. I don't have to be perfect -- I have to give other people the chance to accept me for myself, which includes quirkiness, imperfections and things that maybe aren't "cool," but are infinitely more interesting than fake versions of who I think I "should" be.

There is no exceptional beauty where there is no truth. The truth of our human condition is that we are imperfect. We won't always succeed or be accepted. In fact, sometimes we outright fail. Despite our imperfections, God has willed us. He has willed us to be human beings who aren't perfect, and he has loved us as human beings who aren't perfect. It is not God who cannot forgive our imperfections; it is ourselves. Denying our imperfections by trying to be perfect denies the very core of who we are.

Sometimes I wonder why life doesn't always feel alive. What I am craving during these times is to acknowledge who I am -- a person with imperfections who doesn't have everything figured out -- and to let others see that, too.

This acceptance and grace for myself sets me free to live an alive life by taking chances and being vulnerable, knowing I won't always succeed, but wanting to do the courageous thing and try anyway.

Mia Pohlman is a Perryville, Mo., native studying at Truman State University. She loves performing, God and the color purple -- not necessarily in that order.

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