Embrace your Inner Flawsomeness… by Milly Johnson
The heroine of my new book is flawsome: someone who needs a little reminder that her faults do not detract from her awesomeness. If ever there was a woman that made more than her fair share of mistakes, it’s Miss Marnie Salt. And probably why I feel a deep affinity with her.
Someone once said ‘Only regret the things you haven’t done’. What a wazzock. Of course you’re going to regret things you have done. I do. If I turned the clock back to undo all the mistakes I’d made I’d find myself back as a twinkle in my dad’s eye. My memories are cluttered up with regrets: chances I didn’t take, chances I did take, boys I put up with when I should have had the balls (excuse the pun) to cut and run. Even haircuts I’ve had; indeed one particular perm has given me recurring nightmares since the 1980s. I remember being a proper plonker at Uni. Roll forwards thirty years later when I was catching up with a girl I went there with – we hadn’t crossed paths since. ‘I remember being a total plank at Uni’ she said. ‘No you weren’t, I was,’ I argued. ‘No you weren’t, I was,’ she batted back. We both came to the conclusion that maybe we were all planks and plonkers there, full of young person arrogance because we knew everything. Ach – mistakes are just part of the course. We all make a tit of ourselves at some point: glossy film stars fall down stairs in front of millions of watchers, Vice Presidents of the United States get the spelling of potato wrong. And you smile at the boy you fancy with sweetcorn stuck in your teeth. We let crappy moments define us more than the times when we shone.
We torture ourselves with all the mistakes we’ve made so much that it overshadows all the right stuff we’ve done, the good turns we took, the decisions we made that really mattered. Why do I lend more memory-weight to a ridiculous perm than to standing up to a boss who threatened to make my life hell if I backed up a friend who was (rightly) reporting him for bullying? I did back up my friend, and my boss did make my life hell – but if I’d caved in, that would have been something to really regret. I’d never have been able to look at myself in the mirror again. And that would have been a far bigger deal than a dodgy hairdo.
Kids today have it much rougher than my generation did at their age. At least when I was young we weren’t constantly bombarded with photos of women with airbrushed unattainable figures. We didn’t have to post pouty pictures of ourselves up on the net to give us credibility and we didn’t have to endure the shame of only getting four ‘likes’ on a status. It was more acceptable to be imperfect. We weren’t constantly comparing ourselves to better images and berating ourselves for falling short of an ideal. Social media has altered how we view ourselves: we just see how much of a chasm there is between us and the perfection we could achieve.
Marnie, in my book, meets Lilian who is so wonderful that despite her faults, she is perfect. How can she be perfect if she’s imperfect you may ask – a paradox to screw with your brain? Because she is flawsome that’s why. Her flaws only make her more awesome, more endearing and lovable. They make her warm and relatable and interesting. Imagine a perfect friend – what a pain in the backside she would be. Never getting anything wrong, always looking fabulous… I can’t think of anyone worse to hang around with. We should be our own best mates: the last to beat ourselves up and the first to remind us of all the things we have achieved and the stuff we get right. We spend so much time regretting things in the past and pressuring ourselves to make future improvements that we forget the most important time – the now. Enjoy the now. Enjoy the person you are at this moment and value yourself as more than a mere work in progress because it’s okay not to be perfect so take the pressure off and embrace your flawsomeness instead. You’ll be so much better off – and happier – for it.