It's Okay To Be Imperfect
Do you ever get the feeling that people are nicer to you than you deserve?
I’ve been a bit of a flop since my exams finished. A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of rest, and I maintain that these weeks of crashing out in bed with Netflix have been justified, and were good for me at the time. But graduation is a few weeks behind me now and I’m struggling to get myself to my feet again. I’m flagging without a structure or routine, and I seem to lack the discipline to create it for myself. I'm aching for September, when the start of an internship will mean my days are structured for me!
Not that I really have anything to complain about (but when has that stopped anyone?). I’m grateful to have this free time. But I think it’s the emptiness of this post-student-life break that has thrown me a little. I’ve never thought of myself as the kind of person who has to always be "doing" to be satisfied. You know those “do-ers,” people who are always busy, and seem scared of losing their identity when they’re not “doing” anymore? I’ve never been one of those—I’ve always been perfectly happy taking my time with life, allowing the inner world of my mind and heart to weigh equal importance to the busy-ness of my hands. I’m okay at saying no to things I don’t want to do, for the sake of my own rest, health, or introvert-time.
But even by my standards, the last few weeks have been pretty quiet. I’ve started a part-time job, thankfully, to help fill up my time, mind, and bank balance over the summer break. Something to occupy my hands and give me a reason to be tired in the evenings.
Even so, I’ve been surprised at the feeling of worthlessness that has come alongside this period of quiet. The questions in my mind of, what am I contributing to anybody? Am I allowed to still be “resting” or is this really just laziness now? Is everyone around me wondering what I’m doing with my time? Am I paranoid to be thinking like this? If I’m secure in my identity and my decisions about how to spend my time, where has this fear of worthlessness come from?
I’ve been writing for That First Year for coming up to a year now, but this is my first post as an actual, proper graduate. I’ve been thinking about the fears and sorrows and joys and wonders of that first year out of university but these few weeks have been my first taste of it for myself. It is scary. Harder than I expected.
Starting the summer job was a little daunting, for someone who gets nervous easily. It meant meeting new people, learning a new skill, forcing myself out of bed at 7 am a few mornings a week, for the first time since pre-exams. I tend to get nervous when starting new things because I feel an expectation to already know what I’m doing. I forget that when you’re new, you’re not expected to know what’s going on. You’re buddied up, shadowing the experts to copy them, until you no longer need to copy because it’s part of your own understanding. But the fear on my first day was that I would stay in that place for the entire summer—the place of "newbie," the one who doesn’t know what she’s doing, who can’t get it right. But, obviously (in retrospect) this is not how my co-workers treated me. They didn’t expect me to master the job from day one. They were patient with me, explained things to me, and have assured me that I’m safe to make mistakes and ask questions for as long as it takes to learn. They didn’t expect me to be perfect.
On the topic of new things, I’ve recently started dating someone. A guy who treats me infinitely better than I feel I deserve. A guy who I messed around for months because I didn’t know what I wanted, couldn’t make up my mind. A guy who I hurt, unintentionally but because I wasn’t more careful. Who I drunk texted, who I said one thing to and then acted to the contrary. A guy who was, somehow, patient with me, forgiving, and understanding. Who for some reason, despite my fears and doubts and spirals of overthinking, still thinks I’m lovely. Despite seeing some of the worst parts of me, the no-make-up-and-in-pajamas side of me, the selfish and lazy and scared parts of me, he still sees something in me he thinks is worth pursuing. Though I’ve had a few weeks to get used to this, the knowledge of it is still stunning me daily.
Recently I was struck by this line in a Christian song,
“that he should give His only son, to make a wretch his treasure”
And when I say struck, I mean listened to it on repeat for 48 hours, crying intermittently. It’s a beautiful song about how deeply God loves us, so much that he looks past our wretchedness—promises us he can heal it—and makes us his treasure. This is a pretty wonderful truth to be reminded of, and it’s taking its time to sink in.
I know that this won't mean a lot to everyone reading this, that religion isn’t the point of this blog —but this song helped me to connect all of these feelings together. Something clicked for me in the combination of these words, the vulnerability of starting a new job, and the early stages of this relationship. It reminds me in my moments of inadequacy, my days of feeling not-quite-good-enough, that it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to find this new phase of life a little scary, to not know exactly what I'm doing with it yet. It reminds me that even when I feel wretched, I am treasured—more than I know and more than I deserve.
“Love is holy because it is like grace—the worthiness of its object is never really what matters.” —Marilynne Robinson
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