I grew up wanting things to be perfect and trying to be perfect. As far back as I can remember, it was instilled in me to always act and present myself for other people’s judgement. Well… it may not have been in these exact words but yes, the context is pretty much it.
- “What will other people say?
- “How do you think other people will think?”
- “You don’t want other people to say or think that about you, right?”
- “Do you really want other people to see you like that?”
- “Do you not care about what other people will say?”
When guests came – the best silverwares and tableware were used, the house got ‘extra’ cleaned, everyone “tidied up” just a little bit more than normal, and delicious food and snacks were served. I had to wear my best smile, be in my best clothes, and make my parents be the source of envy for having a daughter like me.
Now, these may just have been plain good old-fashioned manners and good old-fashioned family competition. But, I have always wondered why we couldn’t use the best things, be dressed in the best clothes, and eat the best food without guests? At an early age, I came to conclude – people don’t really mind their homely selves but others will. My own family was more embarrassed of my imperfection than I was. And since the goal was to be the source of envy, people genuinely looked for the proverbial speck! Therefore, it was always better to be safe than sorry. Judgements were like shallow cuts. I saw very little blood but the pain were more noticeable.
Having children has changed my perspective about how perfect I should be in the eyes of other people. Further, parenting autism has also pushed me harder to redefine the impact of what others has to say about me and my family. I’ve worked really hard and I think today – other’s opinions and judgments are simply notes I take (mentally). They are no longer measurements of my life or parenting success (or failure). They are a good record to keep for current or future use. But I no longer dwell on them. They are no longer shallow cuts. They are what they are – opinions that I can choose to take or leave.
Sometimes, Aiden would insist on wearing mismatched socks or uncoordinated clothes. Sometimes, Oliver insists on wearing clothes that he thinks are “cool” but look totally off (in my opinion). Often times, Aiden will do something totally random that catches other people off guard like lay on the floor of Sam’s Club!
Recently, while reviewing one of our YouTube Channel videos, the Hubby made an observation. He said that our floor look too cluttered with toys. I just casually replied, “well, we do have kids who like to play with toys.” I told him that it wasn’t a video about keeping your house spic-and-span. We both just laughed. The video remained as is.
I have really learned to embrace what’s imperfect about us. I have learned to accept that who we are and what we are will never measure up to everyone’s opinion of what, who, and how we should be. And it’s okay. It’s okay to be different. It’s okay for others to be different. It’s okay for others to have opinions about us. And, it’s okay for us not to mind these opinions.
I, too, hope for a world where there’s more kindness, and less judgement. Until then, let’s embrace our perfectly imperfect lives! Let’s teach our children that kindness starts from within.
Happy World Kindness Day!