Secret of Adulthood: Flawed Can Be More Perfect Than Perfection.

Further Secrets of Adulthood:









Agree, disagree?

I recalled this Secret of Adulthood when I was watching a ballet last year. At one point, a dancer wobbled slightly, and for me, this brief moment of imperfection heightened the beauty of the entire performance. It made it seem more real, more thrilling.

What do you think?

  • Doris

    No calendar this year? 🙁

    • gretchenrubin

      Alas, no! I hope to do one for 2014.

      • Rachel

        I’ve enjoyed the 2012 one. I keep it in my office at work. Sometimes reading the tips or quotations brightens my day.

  • Tonya

    I totally agree with you!! In the Japanese culture they practice/value Wabi-Sabi: The Beauty of Imperfection.

    • gretchenrubin

      I love the concept of wabi-sabi. Beautiful notion.

  • Absolutely. I recall years ago going to watch a locally-organised fashion parade. The models were the members of a sporting team raising funds.

    I recall the swimwear and underwear sections actually had me blushing. Although these girls were athletes (and fit and healthy), their bodies were not the perfect ones we see on television and in magazines.

    Bizarrely it all felt very sexual. I realised that that I didn’t think the same about many models’ bodies. These perfect bodies came across to me as literal clothes hangers, whereas the less-than-perfect bodies were real and sensual.

  • peninith1

    It’s why I love opera and orchestral music. The perfection and beauty so often come from the very human qualities of the instruments, vocal and wind, brass, and percussion, being used. It’s the difference between the music box and the music: the vitality and aliveness is also the human pushing against limitations. It’s said that one of the beauties of Jussi Bjoerling’s tenor voice performances was that he would go slightly sharp at intense moments or high notes, thus carrying you to that grace beyond the reach of art. Sloppiness is not good, but that humanity in any kind of art makes it more ‘real’ and thereby more affecting. I strive for greater accuracy in my own craft, quilting, yet my ver imperfect products give a lot of pleasure because of the human hand and eye that went into making them.

  • Jackie D

    I agree. I recently acquired a vintage letterman’s jacket and literally every time I wear it, I get stopped and given compliments on it – usually by men. It’s old and I’m sure the leather sleeves were once pristine white, but now they are weathered. The royal blue wool was once free from pilling, but it’s a bit worn in now. I could pay $300 for a perfect Opening Ceremony varsity jacket that’s never been worn, but the one I got for $45 in an East Village shop feels more perfect to me.

    (Also, in people, perceived perfection is much more of a barrier than an advantage. I have quite a few friends who are mothers and perfectionists, and I try to remind them – without seeming to be telling them what to do! – that their daughters will really benefit from knowing mom is not perfect. It’s hard to relate to a perfect person, or feel close to them.)

  • I agree! I believe are “flaws” are what makes us unique!

  • Mrs. Dubose

    I have read both of your books and have spent a lot of time mulling over the thought of finding happiness doesn’t always make me happy. I have had chronic health issues for most of my adult life and I have been trying to face them with grace and courage. My counselor says if I am a little less gracious and brave and more angry and grieving about it, I will make peace with it, and be happier. So, the two of you inspired me to blog about my life and coming to terms with the past. Thank you for that. If you’d like to take a peek or read a bit it is I keep pushing through the “unhappiness” of the past, to make way for happier times ahead.

  • Sharyn

    I think the imperfection is what gives something it’s honesty, or authenticity.

  • jr cline

    I totally agree. It is our flaws that make us interesting.

  • Brooke

    Who wants to watch or be around perfection. It is predictable and boring.

  • Katie

    I like the music metaphor. My husband is a music nut and his favorite bands are ‘jam bands’ that push themselves so hard they can get sloppy at times. Just knowing they are pushing themselves to their edge makes the listening experience visceral. Perfect is safe, easy listening elevator music.

  • happily nameless

    I agree that sometimes flawed can be more perfect than perfection, but the blurry picture is not the best example to illustrate the statement.

  • Ennydots

    As mum of a severely disabled kid (who is very cute and charming, he just can’t walk or talk!), I live this one every day. So true. Fortunately, his classmates seem to be open to this insight 😉

  • lapetitemortxo

    I think you’re right and ballet is a good example. The movie Black Swan was more than a little familiar to me. The main character makes herself crazy by always striving for perfection, but doesn’t ever lose herself in the dance in the way that makes truly inspiring art. I was exactly this way as a struggling actor (a career I’ve sense given up because it did not make me happy). I would kill myself trying to be perfect. I would work harder than anyone else I knew, but I wouldn’t give as good a performance because I was too uptight and could not learn to lose myself.

  • Lydia

    I experienced that watching the Olympic diving. It was only when someone ‘failed’ a dive, that it made you realise just what hard work and how perfect the others were. It was easy to get sucked in to believing that it was ‘natural’ – until that moment of perspective. Great stuff!

  • Ginger Horton

    Agree. We took well-planned, organized brilliant family vacations every year as a child. But one year, everything went wrong — the weather, the timing, the travel. It’s still the one we most talk and joke about as a family all these years later.