A lovely little book I read recently changed my life. It flipped my world upside down every time I flipped another page. For a month or so, I lived with that book in my heart. I have since given my copy to someone very dear to me and I hope it will touch many others as much as it did me.
Within the last few weeks, I have witnessed a grotesque internal struggle battling within me. I got quickly frustrated with myself as I felt I was rediscovering or relearning things I had already absorbed. Then I came across a quote that said, “The brain forgets 80% of what it learns on any given day.”
I’m not sure if I believe this. It’s a rather sad thought. But it still got me thinking. Reading, connecting, and digesting quotes, information, pictures may feel life-altering in the moment. I feel myself cling to certain thoughts for a few hours, for the rest of the day, but the next morning brings with it new thoughts and feelings. And their presence outweighs those of the previous day.
Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean we have to relearn everything every day. We remember useless facts from day to day. Maybe it’s the more meaningful philosophies and ideals that take longer to sink in. Plus, reading something, learning something, and living something are all very different phases of belief.
This weekend, I relearned the idea that love comes from within. My entire life I’ve struggled with self-esteem and self-worth, believing that because I wasn’t popular, didn’t have a lot of friends, and never felt like anyone loved me, that I was worthless.
Even more, I realized just this morning in a dream that I’ve been expecting others to fix me. Because deep down, I believe I’m broken.
I know this belief is rooted in my constant drive to be perfect. To excel, to impress, to awe, to inspire, to succeed without question. But I can’t be perfect. And why would I want to be? Being perfect means I never make mistakes, I never struggle, and I can never find value in the perfection of a single moment (which is the only time perfection exists).
I am a believer in opposites. For the most part. Without the moon, we wouldn’t cherish the sun. Without the desert, we wouldn’t desire water. I also believe that if we stumble every once in awhile, we’ll be that much more grateful for the times when we’re floating on cloud nine. More importantly, I believe that mistakes teach us the more valuable lessons to be learned. And we’re more likely to remember that which we suffered to learn.
Now I wonder, how can I uselessly strive for perfection but also embrace mistakes? This creates constant turmoil.
So, starting today, I’m letting go of my goal for perfection and I’m cherishing my mistakes. I know perfection doesn’t exist. I know it’s not possible to be perfect. Now I need to follow these thoughts with actions.
I believe that by accepting our flaws… no, by embracing our individual idiosyncrasies we take the first step in discovering the deep capacity for love inside – for ourselves.
Learning to love ourselves means we never need to lean on another person. We never need to fear what others do or don’t do. Because all we ever need is the love we hold inside ourselves.
And loving ourselves is the first step to loving others. If we accept everyone for who they are, humans who are prone to mistakes, we will find more love than ever.
So, I’m letting go. I’m allowing myself to be free. I’m allowing myself to be a fumbling human. Even if I have to make the same mistakes more than once and learn the same lesson again and again.
Because maybe I didn’t see all that I was meant to the first time. Maybe I wasn’t ready to learn everything there was to know. Or maybe there is more than one lesson to learn from a single stumble.
Regardless, I believe learning is about the struggle, the timing, and the openness of the mind to receive the lesson. There will never be a time when all three of these are the same again. Because we are constantly growing, evolving, improving, changing. And such an existence has much more excitement and moments to cherish than one of perfection.