Friday, May 20, 2011

Flawed Road Signs

Flaws. Whose idea was it that we’re supposed to obsess over some perceived imperfection? I suspect a conspiracy. Modern society benefits by convincing you of your flaws so someone can make a buck selling you the remedy thereto. Early religious leaders (of all stripes) benefited because salvaging flawed human beings brought more money in the door. And, early in the life of several religions, if you wished to indulge in your flaws without guilt, sanction for such things could be had – for a price.

So really. Are we as flawed as all that? Or are we indulging someone else’s notion of who and what we ought to be? That’s what I decided long ago. I’ve been a much happier human being since I stopped worrying about what everyone else thinks and began paying attention to what matters to me. Oh, sure. There are people in my life whose opinions I value. Some of them even coach me on my shortcomings. It’s just that I no longer equate flaw with failure. I equate it with opportunity. Typically, I prefer not to use the word ‘flaw’ either. Channeling the few years I worked in the business world, I prefer ‘growth opportunity’ or ‘damn, that’s gotta change’.
What are my current growth opportunities? I’m impatient. I have elevated procrastination to an art form (I give lessons). I have the annoying tendency to put everyone else’s happiness and well-being before my own. Oh. Does that last one sound like a virtue? Some Disney-esque Cinderella sort of thing? Bull-pucky. It’s not. It’s a form of self-sabotage, first. Second, it doesn’t actually serve the people you love who’d be better off developing the initiative to learn whatever skill they’re asking you to perform for them. Third and maybe most importantly, it’s deceptive. I’m not putting everyone else first because I’m all sweetness and light. No. This is a subtle remnant of low self-esteem. If you serve everyone else and make them all happy, look at what a good person you are! Except that you’re also exhausted, resentful, and cranky most of the time. And notably, very little writing gets done.
As for physical flaws? Gave those up. I figure I was built the way I was built for a reason. We can talk about ‘gee, I wish I had curly hair’ or ‘wouldn’t it be nice if I were a size four’. But really, no one is a size four forever. No one. We all change shape. That’s life. Ultimately, physical flaws aren’t about the freckles or the bump on your nose. It’s about things like asthma which meant I could not join the military in any capacity. I took that as a message from the Gods. A pretty clear one, I might add. That’s how I classify flaws – as markers, things that say ‘go here, not there’. I can’t be an astronaut in this lifetime. When I wanted to join the military, I couldn’t fly a fighter, and then found out I couldn’t even drive a truck wearing a uniform. But I can sail a boat by feel. I can navigate unfamiliar water based on nothing more than a detailed chart (though a GPS unit for reference checks really ups the confidence factor – so long as you’re aware that a GPS unit will ask you to sail through land to get to a waypoint…). I can unclog my own galley sink. I can repair a drywall crack in such a way that you’d never know it had been there. I can recite Shakespeare and make it comprehensible to most people (who said the acting degree was worthless?).
Cataloging flaws seems like a twisted form of violence against oneself. If you count your flaws, remember to give the other side equal time. Count your fine qualities, too. What can you do? Sing? Design a website? Run a 25 man raid in World of Warcraft without swearing once, even off microphone?
As a last note, I’ll confess one physical thing. All my life, everyone has said I have bird legs. They are pretty bony and skinny. Flaw? Nuh-uh. I’ve always secretly loved my legs, because those skinny little things are *strong*. Maybe they don’t look right to someone else, but they’ve carried me over mountains carrying a 50lb pack. They’ve cycled 40-50 miles in a day on a bike carrying 60lb packs. They’ve danced. They’ve kicked the crap out of that bully in third grade. What’s not to like?


  1. Wow, that has to be one of the best blog posts I have ever read, thank you!!

  2. Awesome post, Marcella. I definitely don't need the procrastination lessons, though. I do fine with that all on my own. ;o)

  3. Lovely post.

    There's so much of a tendency to get stuck in what we look like and other externalities, but not focus much on what we can actually *do.* Valuing capabilities over appearances is a really important thing.

  4. Great post, lady. You are my Yoda.

  5. Yoda? I'm not sure which disturbs me more...the wrinkly green bit, or the voice...

  6. LOL, you know, between the green tones in your "Enemy Within" avatar and the chicken leg references...Yoda might not be a stretch for the online persona, Oopsie.

    Anywhoo, three cheers for the moment when you realized the "flaw" was actually a strength. There's really no better revenge on the pooh-poohers.

  7. ~applause~ Excellent post. One for the bulletin board, in fact.

  8. I'm sorry - I'm still laughing at the idea of you in the military!

    I totally see how much Jayleia is the idealized you.

  9. @Jeffe: :P So I didn't realize I had issues with authority at the time. I could have been good at it. Save for that whole motion sickness thing.