Literally: The Joy & Freedom of Imperfection or How To Be ‘Free To Be’

We can never forget last summer, where the radiant joy of Barbie and the destruction of Oppenheimer brought the Barbenheimer summer to the cinema. (By the way, both of those movies are available on our shelves now). The famous monologue about how impossible it is to be a woman sticks with me:

“You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It's too hard! It's too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.”

We at the Library District feel the depth of this monologue, but here in our branches and on our website, we want you to know that you whoever you are, you are Free To Be!  That is ...  Free To Be Curious, Connected, Captivated, Fearless, Inspired, A Trailblazer, and of course, Free To Be Yourself. These are the messages from our new public education campaign. 

We also know that in today’s crazy, scary world, feeling Free To Be might require some shifts in your thinking … and we are here to help!

Instead of trying so hard to be everything, everywhere, for everyone, all at once, (so much pressure!) learn to try, and to fail, and to be OK with that. Learn to go slow and connect. Rediscover what makes you Curious to discover more, what makes you feel Captivated. What areas in your life could you strive to be more Fearless or Connected to others?  In doing so, we think you will be surprised and delighted just how free you can be.

Allow me to share a Lesson Plan to get you there:

Lesson #1: Be Perfectly Imperfect. The Japanese concept of wabi sabi centers on the acceptance of imperfection. This philosophy holds that everything is imperfect, and that finding the beauty in this truth should be the goal, rather than relentlessly striving to achieve the impossible. Reshma Saujani’s Brave, Not Perfect is a beautiful place to begin. Once you have found your bravery, let it lead you to another of my favorites, Susie Rinehart’s Fierce Joy: Choosing Brave Over Perfect to Find My True Voice. They will help you see that perfection is the enemy of progress and happiness.

Brave, Not Perfect

Fierce Joy

Lesson #2: Forget Likeability. So much mental time and energy is spent worrying about fitting in and pleasing everyone. True leaders and happy people do not second guess how others perceive them or judge them. They simply assume best intentions. Letting go of fear and doubt will free you to be your truly authentic, flawed, real self. Can you almost feel the weight coming off your shoulders already? Let Ichiro Kishimi help you explore these attractive and genuine traits in The Courage to Be Disliked; The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change your Life and Achieve Real Happiness.

The Courage to Be Disliked

Lesson #3: Go Slow. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Overnight success is a myth. Happiness is a lifelong journey with curves and bends and detours in the road. Cal Newport’s Slow Productivity; The Lost Art of Accomplishment Without Burnout reminds us all to take our time. Once you allow yourself to calm down and relax a little, you can also discover Languishing: How to Feel Alive Again in A World That Wears You Down by Corey Keyes.

Slow Productivity


Lesson #4: Make Connections. When you are no longer blinded by the rushed pursuit of perfection, success, and likeability, you can connect with others more easily and embrace those who you want in your inner circle. Rhaina Cohen advises you how to do so in The Other Significant Others: Reimagining Life With Friendship at the Center. 

The Other Significant Others

So once you have let go of all these social demands, I hope you will look around and think, “Hey, I’m actually feeling pretty good.” But what if it doesn’t last … what then? Well, my friend, I plan to wash, rinse repeat! Simply start again with what we learned in Lesson #1. Let go of perfection and fear and embrace failure. Because those who have not failed, have never tried. Let Scott Adams tell you How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big

Be Better Than your BS

All of this leads to a concept that I find quite interesting: Radical Acceptance. Risha Grant summarizes it in Be Better Than Your BS: How Radical Acceptance Empowers Authenticity and Creates a Workplace of Inclusion. Once you radically accept yourself and others, you will begin to feel your world opening up … and at last, you will be truly Free to Be!