I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being. ~ Anatole France
At times 2014 has felt like a bombardment of personal, professional, social and global examples of sad, heartbreaking, harrowing stuff. While I have written about tame topics like the pressures on grown ups to conform to societal expectations and on the importance of finding our tribe, our fellow weirdoes, our like-interested kindred spirits, I am agonisingly struck by the importance of the need for self-acceptance, self-reflection, connection and compassion. It seems so important to reflect on our acceptance of self and others, ‘just as we are’ (as Bridget Jones’s Mark Darcy would say), and on how we might teach this (is it teachable?) to our children and students.
This week I discovered the Not Perfect Hat Club, a movement inspired by teachers who want to encourage their students to embrace their individuality and realise that it is ok to be ‘not perfect’. As someone who is aware of my own geekery, my own (I like to think, lovable) weirdness, and my own penchant for wearing literal and metaphorical hats of all descriptions, the sentiment of the Not Perfect Hat Club resonates with me. It is the ‘It’s Ok And Even Fabulous Not To Be Perfect’ Club. It is the ‘Embrace and Celebrate Who You Are, Whoever That Is’ Club. It is a tangible hook which students can use to articulate and work through their own (lovable) imperfections.
This was also the week that Australians banded together over the #illridewithyou hashtag, a clicktivistic social media movement which attempted to bring Australians together at a time which threatened to be about difference and division. In the wake of the Sydney siege, this hashtag brought people together in solidarity and compassion. It made me wonder about how our children and students will find their sense of community in a world which sees clicking as connecting, likes on Instagram as measures of self-worth and the selfie-stick as a tool for online image crafting. In what contexts will they get a sense of belonging and an ‘I see you; I get you; I understand you’ conscious connection?
How can we help our children, students, family and friends to know that being ‘not perfect’ is perfect? That being their imperfect, authentic selves is not only enough, but wonderful? That we can all live, grow and learn with, from and alongside each other’s imperfect perfection?
More questions than answers, today!
A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate. ~ Seth Godin