- Perfectionism is overrated.
- Being able to see gray is preferable to only black-and-white thinking.
- We can love people and other creatures who are imperfect.
My former psychiatrist and therapist Dr. Lev and I spent a lot of time discussing how my thinking and behaviors exemplified a black-and-white or all-or-nothing stance. I had a difficult time being anywhere in the gray area. The thought of being mediocre was unfathomable to me.
After my parents divorced in 1982, my mother returned to school and updated her knowledge of computer science. She learned the then-current languages like FoxPro and Dbase. She obtained her first job writing software at a research company on Long Island. After six months, she got her first review. When she didn’t get “excellent” across the board, she quit and started her own custom software firm that was extremely successful.
Anorexics are often perfectionists. We can’t tolerate being anything less than the ideal. In recovery from anorexia, it’s been difficult for me to tolerate my body, which I see as imperfect. Since my stroke in mid-2018, I try to come from a stance of body neutrality, rather than one of body positivity or loving my body. Body neutrality allows me to appreciate my body for what it is capable of doing, instead of focusing on its appearance. Since having the stroke and having to basically relearn to walk, I’m much more appreciative and aware of the miracle of the seemingly simple capabilities of the human body (and mind) and less likely to take them for granted.
As a writer, the deadline often comes before I’m ready to relinquish my submission. When is my essay good enough? Never. I make revision after revision until I can’t stand to look at it one more time. I cringe and hit the “submit” button, as the deadline is closing in.
I came across this poem that resonated with me. I felt like sharing it.
Love for Imperfect Things
By Haemin Sunim
It’s okay that you have flaws.
How could our lives be as clean and white as a swan?
Life naturally takes a toll
on our bodies, our minds, and our relationships.
Rather than choosing a life in which you do nothing
for fear of making a mistake,
choose a life that improves through failure and pain.
And shout out loud to your struggling self,
“I love you so much.”
I hope you enjoyed this poem as much as I did.
Thanks for reading.
From LOVE FOR IMPERFECT THINGS by Haemin Sunim, published by Penguin Books, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2016 by Haemin Sunim. English translation copyright © 2018 by Deborah Smith and Haemin Sunim.