Life is Messy: Stop Looking For Perfect and Embrace What Is

Life is messy: stop looking for perfect and embrace what is

Life is messy.

We create weekly rhythms and chore charts, financial goal sheets and healthy menus that take into account everyone’s preferences. We do date nights and declutter and determinedly decline 80% of the invitations that come our way. All in the hopes of creating orderly, simple, tidy lives.

And still, it’s all messy.

We tip into discouragement, especially when we compare our lives to the celebrity blogger or simple living guru. We wonder what we’ve done wrong, what else we can let go of. Maybe if we move into a tiny home with a compost toilet and cloth wipes, life will finally feel simple and easy!?

What if we simply accept that it’s all messy, we stop looking for perfect, and embrace what is?


Mostly you get real food on the table and sometimes you don’t. But you give thanks and gather together regularly and enjoy chatting and laughing about the day.

You maintain decent order in your home but hope people don’t look too closely at the kitchen floor which hasn’t been mopped in weeks. Instead of constant cleaning you’re doing work that lights you up, making real food, and going for walks so you are able to show up for your family with love.

Dates nights often consist of driving to Costco together or a quick walk holding hands. But those snippets of time matter and maybe this is what growing old together looks like anyways.

Everything seems to be breaking at once and dipping into your emergency fund to repair the fridge and fix the roof totally stresses you out, making you feel like life is always one step forward and two steps back. But at least you built up that emergency fund, to begin with.

You’ve been really tired lately so instead of making Pinterest-worthy crafts, you and your child snuggle on the couch, nestled deep under the fraying quilt, enjoying a Netflix series together. She lays her head on your lap and you know that soon this season will be over; she’s growing up too fast.

Messy and incredibly beautiful.

None of us live perfect lives, do we? Yet it’s so easy to only see where we’ve dropped the ball, don’t measure up, cannot keep up.

(Related post: Simple Living Tips for the Stressed Out or Recovering Perfectionist)

We overlook all the hugs and packed lunches, the showing up and tucking little people into bed. The doing our best even through seasons of grief or pain or uncertainty. The helping our college-aged son buy groceries when he is broke and helping our daughter fly the nest when it’s hard and feels like just yesterday that she was learning to read. The messy, ordinary stuff of real life that doesn’t photograph well.

Our pain and discomfort grow roots, I believe, when we spend too much time comparing, thinking about what was or what might be, instead of embracing what is.

Today is a gift in all its ordinary, messy, imperfect glory.


1. We could stop watching TV and reading magazines or unsubscribe from social media that makes us feel “less than”;

2. Take periodic breaks from all social media or consumption – time to unplug and just live in our messy, beautiful, real lives;

3. Speak to ourselves with kindness and forgive ourselves for not living up to our too high standards;

4. Remind ourselves that there is incredible beauty in imperfection.

5. We could stop comparing ourselves to some imaginary story about what a good mom looks like;

6. Love our husbands as they are and stop trying to mould them into someone they’re not;

7. Embrace our imperfect bodies, our graying hair, the beautiful crinkles at the corners of our eyes that speak of a full life, well-lived.

8. We could celebrate each child for who they are and stop worrying that they don’t fit the mould of the girl next door;

9. Choose to see the beauty, embedded deep in each scruffy soul we meet;

10. Spend more time appreciating what we do have than pining for what we don’t.

It all goes by so fast. And if we spend the handful of years we get waiting for someday to be happy, never quite satisfied, forgetting to slow down and breathe and notice, we will miss the incredible gift we have been handed.

Life is all messy: Let’s stop looking for perfect and embrace what is.

Krista xo

NOW WHAT? Find more encouragement in this resource page written to help you embrace imperfection and make peace with the messiness of life.

This post was originally published at Simple As That (June 18/17)


You're imperfect. Life is messy. Show up anyway. I'll help you figure out how.

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19 comments on “Life is Messy: Stop Looking For Perfect and Embrace What Is

  1. Thanks Kristen. This is exactly what I needed to hear today. I think I will read it over and over to let it fully absorb! It expressed where I am perfectly.

  2. What you’ve said here is the missing piece. It’s the piece I couldn’t quite put my finger on AFTER I decluttered, AFTER I got my home in order, AFTER I thought I was “perfect” in life with everything ebbing and flowing — well, until it wasn’t. It’s true, after you’ve done all these things to make your life seem better, you are left with the “then what?” This, what you’ve said, is the “then what”. Perfectly stated. We, as humans, are always trying to perfect our lives, make things just so — but this can never be, because perfection doesn’t exist. It’s the big illusion — the carrot we are always chasing. Knowing this is what can bring peace. Now, remembering this on a daily basis may prove difficult, but I will come back here and read this if I need it! Thanks so much for writing this.

    • You are welcome. This is why I can feel frustration with “bandwagons” of any sort – people often use them as a magic pill thinking “if only I do this, my life/I will be amazing.” But amazing never comes because we have not made peace with the messiness of life and are constantly looking for something outside of us that can only be found within. We are the one who can decide we are good enough. This simple, ordinary life (or the big, adventurous life some lead) is good enough. Anyways I’m off on a ramble but than you, Jen, for your comment;)

      • Loved both Jen’s comment and your reply Krista. I know this to be true in my forty something years, twenty-plus years marriage, moving, downsizing, simplifying, adventuring, living with intention, purpose, whatever you want to call it. Perfect doesn’t exist. In the tiny house or the big adventure. It doesn’t exist in the big ol’ world, our tidy/not-so-tidy homes, our hearts or our marriages. It’s false hope, a false premise. We change a bunch of stuff in our lives but everything that matters and that brings us any kind of peace is an inside job, always is. It’s an inside job of self-love and acceptance, of gratitude, of not squirming away from the discomfort we experience in marriage, mothering, friendship.

  3. Once again you speak to my heart and tell me the things I need to hear when I need to hea them. Thank you for your insight, honesty and bravery

  4. I love the word EMBRACE was my word for the year, its such a lovely word, i was my own worst enemy with perfectionism , now as i have got older i have calmed down, sometimes we confuse making sure things are done well with things being accurate and precise, its so freeing not to worry if things are not so perfect, you know if the” curtains” don,t drape perfectly on both sides, i remember i once decorated the christmas tree and it looked amasing, then my youngest who was behind the curtain jumped out and knocked the tree flying, baubles everywhere and the tree was permanently wonky from then on, if as an older lady i can help someone, honestly most imperfect things wont matter in 10 years from now so embrace life and laugh more
    love Jacqueline xxx

  5. I’m new to your blog. This morning I was meditating and I realized how much I allow the imperfect things in my life to take up space in my head. Then I read this very on point essay. I love it when that happens!

  6. I found your blog this morning when I was checking out No Sidebar’s reading list and, after reading several posts, I am moved to add a comment. I love your writing style – it has an easy flow but but your words are meaningful, and several times I’ve stopped and re-read a sentence (for example, “…the messy, ordinary stuff of life that doesn’t photograph well” made me stop and think about the capturing and displaying we do on all this social media). Thank you for giving me some food for thought that has depth and substance.

    • Good morning and I appreciate Brian sharing another of my posts:) My writing is generally a reflection of deep internal wrestling or questioning, of doing the hard work to find freedom and joy in my life and I am always happy to hear when it draws others to pause and consider too.

  7. Good Morning Krista:

    I experienced a really tough day at work yesterday. I also did not provide myself compassion as I am learning to embrace imperfection. I needed this article. I really hate the “side effects” of perfection. I am 47 with an HSP personality, for which I take everything personal. I reference this article when I am struggling with perfection. Thanks again.

  8. I’m feeling terribly “imperfect” at the moment. Recovering from the trauma of emergency surgery and that experience of being so incapacitated as to be unable to advocate for myself. But what really hurts me is my adult kids. I hear from my one wounded one every day checking to see how I am. One text from another one asking what happened. A “get well quick” msg on FB from another. Not another word. How much of a failure as a mom do I feel right now? Plenty.

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