Cyn and I have spent the first 40 years of our lives mastering the art of perfectionism, and we've decided this next 40 years will be less about hiding our blemishes and striving for the ideal, and instead about accepting who we are...flaws-and-all. In fact, we'd prefer to embrace our imperfections not just by accepting them but by seeing the strength and superpowers that lie within them.
Perfectionism was an exhausting, heavy cloak Cyn and I hid behind for many years. It hindered us from owning who were are and knowing our self worth. It was the critical voice in our heads that judged everything we said and did. The wild thing is that we realized it has nothing to do with achieving anything but more to do with our feelings. We felt like we needed to live up to this ideal standard and with that came feelings of shame, never feeling good enough, self-judgment, etc. These feelings kept us stuck. They keep us small. It's no way to live. Trust me, as an actress and a model, I struggled with feelings of self-worth as my career was not based solely on my talent, but rather how tall I was, the color of my hair and my level of fitness. The focus on the physical took its toll. It wasn't until I survived cancer that I experienced in an internal shift toward embracing my true self.
I'd like to highlight a few of our so-called imperfections and share with you how Cyn and I have learned to transform them into our superpowers.
Y'all I have a 5 inch, vertical, Frankenstein scar on my belly. You might not know this as I have spent the past few years hiding it.
In 2015 I had a near death experience. I was admitted to the hospital for severe abdominal pain. They discovered I had small bowel volvulus and had to perform emergency surgery. Small Bowel Volvulus is when your intestines twist and cut off the supply of blood to your intestines. Surgery was necessary to save my intestines from dying due to lack of blood supply and possible death. I was rushed into emergency surgery and was told they would need to make a 5-inch vertical incision to save my intestines. This meant I would be left with a large scar on my abdomen. Ladies, my favorite part of my body has always been my firm abdomen. I loved wearing midriffs and spent a lot of time in two-piece bathing suits. Once I healed from my surgery, I was left with a 5-inch vertical scar down my abdomen. I quickly ran out to buy a one-piece bathing suit. I wore bathing suits and clothes to cover up my scar. I also Face Tuned out my scar for social media posts. I did all of this to hide this imperfection. The scar made me feel damaged, imperfect, and less desirable. I thought I had to hide a part of me, and it wore on my confidence.
More recently, I've been able to recognize this scar as a physical representation and reminder of my greatest superpower, strength. Surviving cancer and intestinal surgery helped shape me into the woman I am today. I could get a tattoo to honor what I've accomplished, but instead, I've decided to own and share my 5-inch, badass, scar. Once I stopped hiding, my self-confidence came back.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
Another so-called imperfection I was recently diagnosed with is ADD. People with ADD can have a hard time with organization and focus, this can make it more challenging in school or on the job.
For me, I always did well in school but had to put in extra long hours of studying and just felt I had to work harder than my fellow classmates. This caused me to have low self-esteem. I also felt while on set for an acting job. I had to work harder than others to memorize and learn the material. This left me feeling insecure at times.
But once I learned I had ADD, it all made sense to me. I felt a sense of relief learning that there was a reason why things were always a bit harder for me. It helped me have more compassion for my challenging high school years and 30 years of acting. I soon realized my ADD wasn't an imperfection but was a superpower that created excellent work ethic and hyper-focused concentration that helped me become a successful actress and businesswoman.
Growing up in the south with the understanding that to be loved meant to look perfect was very stressful for Cyn and I. We were fearful of showing our flaws, and we assumed everyone expected us not to have any. Cyn felt she'd disappoint people if she were not physically perfect.
At 13 years old, during a growth spurt, Cyn developed stretch marks on her hips, which caused shame and every attempt to hide them. It still bothers her to some degree today, but she's learning that she doesn't have to be perfect to gain others approval. "True perfection" is a woman who rocks her curves, cellulite, breastfed boobs, scars, and stretch marks. I'm truly inspired by women who are focused on the joys of life - deep friendships and doing things they love - and not on their shell.
Cyn and I have wide "platypus" feet, which we considered to be a so-called imperfection. We always hoped for more narrow, feminine looking-feet, with soft, non-calloused heels. Wearing a thin, dainty, heel crushed our big toes and made them look even more swollen. And forget stiletto heels, Cyn told me that she recently tried rocking stilettos at her husband's premiere. As the movie was ending, she tried jamming her big Fred Flinstone feet back into those dang heels, and they wouldn't fit. Her toes had swelled during the movie. Panic set in as she had to practically curl her toes under to make those Cinderella slippers fit.
Shortly after the premiere, Cyn had a conversation with was a close friend, and she mentioned to her that she wanted narrower feet. Cyn and her girlfriend Kathy sat playfully comparing who's feet were wider and then laughed and said these wide feet keep us grounded. From that day forward, Cyn and I have embraced our platypus feet. They've taken us everywhere we've needed to go and they help us keep up with Cyn's three kids. So who cares if she can't wear thin, beige, strapped heels like Jennifer Aniston? She's happy to wear comfy tennis shoes and flip flops.
Here are a few tips on how to transform your imperfections into superpowers:
1) It helps me to look at the thing about myself that I see as imperfect and ask myself, are there any positive qualities, attributes, or benefits that come out of this "so-called" imperfection? In other words, does the thing I see as flawed actually help or strengthen different parts of me? When I'm not hiding it but truly owning or sharing it, does it humble or empower me, create more compassion, empathy, relatability, etc.
2) Look inward to find positive aspects you've possibly learned about yourself through having this imperfection. Have you become more compassionate and less judgmental of others and therefore more connected to others? Do you have more patience and are more grounded? Are you stronger emotionally because of this attribute or quality?
3) Once you recognize your superpowers and you feel you've got your legs under you, I think it's important to share your imperfections with people who have earned the right to listen to your story. When I say someone has "earned the right", they will offer you a safe space to share your truth. See if owning this part of you helps release any possible hidden shame and empowers you to step more fully into you and your superpower.
4) I try to remember that emotions (and all the feelings of being flawed) aren't problems and we shouldn't be treating them as if they are. Instead, I meditate. I practice being tolerant of the negative thoughts and feelings that arise. Doing nothing is actually healing.
We hope by sharing our own challenges with perfection and how we transformed this idea of imperfection into our superpowers, will help you to do the same. Be brave, be you! It's worth it!
Britt (+ Cyn)
Sweet Collection By Brittany + Cynthia Daniel