The perfection of being imperfect: connecting with self & others

I cling to my imperfection, as the very essence of my being. ~ Anatole France

perfect imperfection

perfect imperfection

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.

a collection of my many hats as snapped in Australia, England, Iceland, Sweden & Montenegro

some of my many hats as snapped in Australia, England, Iceland, Sweden & Montenegro

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

by @debsnet

I wonder what I was more likely to find standing on an Icelandic glacier in my Russian hat – a tribe or my authentic self?


11 thoughts on “The perfection of being imperfect: connecting with self & others

  1. I try to remember that in every tragic, harrowing obstacle that has faced humanity, there is always, ALWAYS a ray of sunlight that is so piercingly strong that it can dispel the cloud that drapes over the masses. Personally, I remember the Newtown Shooting Massacre of December 14, 2012. In that same day I went from unbeievable sadness to unbelievable joy with the birth of my first child later that day. We as a species are constantly reminded of the fragility of life and how we must choose to hold on the things that lift us up rather than those that drag us down. Associate with those people in your ‘tribe’ (Love Seth Godin) that bring you joy and inspire you to do the things that are important to your soul. GREAT POST! Thanks for writing this and reminding me of what is important in life.


  2. Wow, thank you, Pete.

    Yes it seems we have to negotiate how we respond to unfathomable tragedy and impossible joy, and the continuum in between. I agree with your idea about choice; we do get to choose how we make sense of and respond to events around us. Focusing on uplift and compassion sounds like a great way to manage being a human in this world!


  3. i very clearly remember the moment I realized that 1. People at my college actually liked me better for my weirdness and that 2. For most of my life before, I had learned that strange was bad and I should work harder at being “normal.” As a teacher, I wanted to negate that lesson for students in my classes.
    Most success came from empowering students to recognize and solve real problems in the community-however one would define that- and to own their place in it. How can we activate students before they leave school to see themselves as valuable and unique assess to the future? With all the messy, quirky loveliness that makes them capable of Magic no one else can foster?


    • Beautifully said, Kelly: “How can we activate students before they leave school to see themselves as valuable and unique … With all the messy, quirky loveliness that makes them capable of Magic no one else can foster?” … Exactly!


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  6. Isn’t it great to be yourself and for everyone else to be themselves – however perfectly imperfect we may be? Our students need to see this everyday. They need to feel it, understand it and accept themselves as they are – our task as educators is to ensure that they do exactly that everyday, however perfectly imperfect they may be!


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