Gabriela’s Double Dog Dare
Gabriela Leskur | Thursday, October 10, 2013
I often remark how this column serves to remove inhibition, allowing me to do things I would normally not think to do or would normally not have the courage to do.
This week’s dare was to reveal a secret.
When I first saw this dare, I looked past it, not thinking it was big or bold enough to accept for this column. I thought that it was clichÃ©, something akin to the Truth or Dare games we would play in middle school. It was always the courageous people who would take the dares, the rest of us playing it safe by choosing to reveal a truth.
But now, as a pseudo-adult, I think that telling the truth is a lot more difficult than going through with a dare.
This week I faced both head on – accepting a dare to tell the truth.
Notre Dame is a campus full of successful students, many of whom are instrumental in social, political, or intellectual change. With so many remarkable people at this school, I often hear my friends describe someone as being perfect. “Oh, I love her,” they say. “She’s seriously the most perfect human being.” This always makes me pause.
Do we realize what we’re doing when we make these claims of perfection?
My secret is that this idea of perfection bothers me – the other secret is why it bothers me.
When someone is called “perfect,” an impossible goal is set. Unless you are king or queen of the narcissist club, you probably see that there is something about yourself that could use improvement, that there is some imperfection.
But if we admit we are flawed, then we admit that we can never be like this “perfect” person. If compared to supposed perfection, we will always fall short.
It’s so easy for us to look at someone else and assume that they are perfect or compare ourselves to those we see as far better than we are. “She is a better singer than I am.” “He is better at Econ than I am.” “They have a better relationship than we do.” On and on, these are impossible standards.
The real problem comes with the connotation that perfection is always the ideal. Because no one is, nor ever will be, perfect. No matter how people seem, they have their own struggles, their own demons, their own imperfections.
The truth is, we all have our own secrets. We all have sides of ourselves that we are afraid to share, sides that aren’t always public.
Perhaps we are afraid of the vulnerability that comes from sharing our true selves with another person, of being judged or ostracized as a consequence. Perhaps, at the heart of it all, we are afraid that we will no longer be seen as perfect. But I’ve started asking myself, is that really a bad thing?
The Irish State of Mind week has been on my mind for this reason. It’s a week that’s meant to show support for those on campus dealing with mental illness, dealing with their secrets, dealing with their imperfections.
I think the best way we can support each other is to come to terms and embrace these imperfections, not only in ourselves, but in others.
I have been told before that people think I’m perfect. I will never claim that to be true. I’m sure that some of you reading this have ample examples of how imperfect I am.
The reason I dislike this idea of imperfection is because I am painfully aware of how imperfect I am. My struggle with depression and mental illness reminds me constantly of what I lack.
As the girl who skips down the hallway after getting drenched in the rain, most people would never know this side of me, and honestly, I would never tell them.
But I’ve come to realize that this is not and should not be something to be ashamed of. And no, this struggle does not define me in the way you’d think.
My imperfections and my struggles make me stronger. I may not have control over the sadness, the cumulus nimbus cloud that hovers over my head, but I have control over how I respond to it. I respond to it by remembering how lucky I am, how great Notre Dame is, how happy I feel to be blessed with such wonderful people in my life. I plow through the dark, stormy days, and believe that this too shall pass.
Many people will tell you that I am the girl that walks around saying, “You’re wonderful,” to people. That is because I sincerely and honestly feel that way. I am frequently amazed by how wonderful people are. But people aren’t wonderful because they are perfect. They are wonderful, in a big part, because they are flawed.
Being flawed is hard. Admitting your flaws is hard. But with that hardship comes something wonderful. If all of us stop being afraid of showing our imperfect selves, there comes the possibility of finding people who will love us not in spite of our imperfections, but even more so because of them.
We cannot keep the storms from coming. Sometimes we will be left in the rain, without an umbrella. And honestly, that sucks. But it sucks a little less when you turn your head towards the heavens and jump around in the puddles with some great people who don’t mind holding your hand through it all.
Contact Gabriela Leskur at firstname.lastname@example.org