Authentically Imperfect

What have your imperfections taught you? 

Think back to the first time you learned how much you really didn’t know about something.

Maybe it was even an area you assumed a level of confidence or even expertise in.

And then suddenly you realized your blind spot (or maybe some well-intentioned person shared it with you!) and you could no longer ignore it…

We’ve all been there.                                 

We call this place self-awareness.

These moments present powerful opportunities to choose: We can either decide to feel like an imposter and sink into embarrassment and shame OR we can embrace authenticity and accept that we still have more to learn.

What would it take to choose authenticity?

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In her powerful book, The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown shares how “authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are. Choosing authenticity means cultivating the courage to be imperfect, to set boundaries, and to allow ourselves to be vulnerable.” 

Let’s break this down…backwards:

Being Vulnerable

Vulnerability is the foundation of authenticity, and it requires exposure. Yet our human instinct is to hide and protect, not share and connect around the things that make us feel weak or powerless. So instead of finding someone we trust to open up to, we stuff these things deep inside ourselves until we have painted on so many layers of persona that no one really knows us and we feel emotionally distant and isolated in our struggle. Vulnerability invites us to share, to connect, to risk, and to heal. And as we connect with other trusted confidants, we model positive openness for others, including our children. This is especially important as we own up to our own mistakes and show up with an attitude of humility as we ask for and seek forgiveness.

Your Opportunity: Find one person you trust to share something that’s been weighing on your heart. Ask them for what you really need and set a time to follow up with them let them to share how you’re doing in the next week.

Your Challenge: Think of someone you have hurt and take the next step to apologize by owning your part in the blame. Don’t just say “I’m sorry,” but really ask for their forgiveness as you rebuild your relationship.

Setting Boundaries

It’s often harder to set boundaries around how we treat ourselves than determining what we need (and don’t need) from our interactions with others. Saying “no” and standing firm in what really serves us can be one of the hardest practices since we don’t want to disappoint others or prove that we can’t do something. Just because you choose the “no” (or the “not yet”) does not mean you’re incapable – it means you’re being intentional. Our time and energy are not infinite. Every “yes” has a corresponding “no.” Choose wisely.

Your Opportunity: What is one area of your life that you wish you had said or could say “no” to? This may be a commitment you made that is no longer serving you and your family or a new opportunity that doesn’t align with your values and priorities that others may expect you to do. What would it take to choose the “no” here? 

Your Challenge: Now consider the internal commitments you’ve made to yourself. What promises have you broken that you need to restore? This could be as simple as setting a consistent nighttime routine so you get enough sleep or as deep as rebooting your spiritual practice.

Cultivating Courage to Be Imperfect

There is nothing quite so humbling as becoming a parent and coming face-to-face with so many of your imperfections, especially as your children start intimating you! We have the daily realization that we can’t do it all and will, in fact, fail (or rather, not succeed) at so many things. And then life will go on. This doesn’t mean we lower our standards. Rather, we have to realign our expectations with what’s realistic so we don’t internalize our imperfections as “failure.” It takes courage not to pretend so you can become vulnerable enough to be seen and known. You must be brave in order to risk revealing your true self, imperfections and all!  

Your Opportunity: Think of one area where you feel like you aren’t fully showing up. What would it take to choose to be less perfect and more YOU here? 

Your Challenge: Admit your insecurities and imperfections to someone you love and trust who won’t judge you (and it’s likely they already know some of these things). Ask them for their support and advice on what do next as you live and lead with more courage.

“We stand outside of our story and hustle for worthiness by constantly performing, perfecting, pleasing, and proving.” Brené Brown

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Authenticity begins with awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance.

When you hustle for worthiness, you’re putting on a persona that hides your authentic self and prevents people from really knowing and loving you. Take a stand and don’t sell out on authenticity for approval and acceptance.

Instead, practice vulnerability and self-disclosure in safe spaces and with strong relationships. Share your fears, your doubts, and your successes that create your story. Let your vulnerability define you, not limit you. 

Then using the boundaries you’ve set for yourself and others, lead with courage as you expand your comfort zone. While growing, take time to recognize your triggers and treat yourself with kindness and respect.

True authenticity comes when you show up fully to your life and have the courage to admit you’re not perfect. It is choosing to live and lead beyond your imperfections to continue writing your story.

Less perfection. More authenticity.

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