One of the all-time most significant, wonderful shifts in my life happened the moment I decided I was good enough. Less than great. Imperfect. A little broken even perhaps. But also beautiful, strong, courageous, compassionate and determined.
I decided that I am less than great and I like myself. All of me.
The act of giving myself permission to simply show up and be less than great broke the chains that had bound me for years. Heavy, twisted, tightly woven ropes of misery that held me back from laughing freely, from sleeping peacefully, from walking in deeply-rooted joy.
All at once it dawned on me that there are no life rules that dictate I must be any different from who I am – with all my strengths and weaknesses. All my particular hopes and desires, pet peeves and personality quirks. I simply am. You simply are. And it is good.
We have believed a lie. A lie that tells us we are unacceptable, unlovable, a failure, too slow, too big, too much or too little. There is no winning when you live under this condemnation.
But oh, the sweet freedom that washes me free of shame and comparison when I step out into good enough. When I replace the ugly lie with the truth that I am artwork, beautifully knit together craftsmanship.
I am a chunky charcoal wool scarf with a few loose ends and snags here and there but safe and comforting and inviting. You are a delicate floral watercolor with slightly ragged edges, all muted colors of femininity. You speak of spring and delight and possibility. My sister is fierce – strong and bold she calls women to fight and justice. She is an intricately carved wooden shield; solid and mysterious, slightly battle-scarred.
We are beautiful. None of us perfect, none of us complete perhaps, without the others. Each of us needed.
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I wonder what would happen to us women if each day, many times a day if necessary, we decided to show up for life with permission to be less than great. If we simply showed up. Naked. Allowing ourselves to be seen. If we did not worry so much about making our mark or competing in the marketplace or trying to look sweet and pretty and competent.
I wonder how life might change. How delight and joy and unencumbered creativity might begin to flow. How we might support each other with less judgment and wariness. How we might, as women, be more inclined to lift each other up instead of tearing down.
How we might, by the simple bravery of showing up ourselves, call our daughters and sisters to freedom.
When we disentangle our minds and hearts and bodies from the false yet pervasive notion that we have to be the best at something we are able to just do the work that lights us up. To be who we are: athlete, teacher, biologist, healer, advocate, gardener, listener, friend.
We can sing joyfully without caring so much that we are not quite as skilled as the lady over there. We can tend to our business with a lighter step. We can write the book or return to medical school or remind ourselves that no matter how many others are bringing in income and building impressive livelihoods, our primary mission is tending to the hearth and little people and we can find peace and joy in this place all over again.
We can simply be and let go of all the “shoulds” and looking over our shoulders. And what might actually happen is that we end up living a life far more amazing and beautiful than we ever could have thought possible. We might create something – a work of art, a connected family, a heart-centered business that lights us up. We might just end up crafting a life that far surpasses great because we simply showed up and began walking in freedom.
But here’s the thing – no one else can give you permission to be less than great. That is a gift that only you can offer to yourself. You alone are responsible for this. You must be the one to decide to step out from under the mantle of comparison or shame or perfectionism; to step out and offer who you are to the world. All the beautiful and the broken bits.
Can you give yourself permission today to be less than great?
You might also like to read The Gifts of Imperfection or On Becoming Fearless (as an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases). You may also like my Winter Mindfulness Journal – created to help you mine for the gifts in every season of life.