In third grade I was in love with Tom Dashers. He was taller than most of the boys which was good for me because so was I. He had a lovely smile and could play air guitar with the best of them. Every day I would look forward to school, which was a new perspective on my part. I couldn’t wait to see him each day just to catch a glimpse of him made the butterflies in my stomach flutter even if it did mean feeling sick. I was eight years old and addicted to love. I discovered love, the emotion, and I wanted more of it. Just to see Tom looking my way sent chills up my spine and I wanted to experience more of this new feeling.
My love affair with Tom came to a screeching halt one hot afternoon. The boys would write secret notes and hide them inside their yo-yos. It was the girl’s job to retrieve them and find out what they were thinking about us (for some of us this pattern of communication continues into adulthood). My girlfriends and I got a hold of Tom’s yo-yo. I was certain that he had written about me. I knew he liked me by his sideway glances and the way he went out of his way just to walk by my locker.
I was right, the note inside the yo-yo was about me, it said, “I think Jenai is cute but her finger.” I was devastated, of course, this was my worst fear realized and I was only eight years old. I was born with a deformity on my left hand, I am missing two knuckles in two fingers and one of my fingers only grew to half the size of the rest of them. I was always insecure about this. Even at age eight I believed no boy would love me because of my imperfection. Here I was in love for the first time and what I feared the most came to pass. I went home crying and learned to hide my imperfection, as well as, my love.
In fact, like my love, I became so good at hiding my finger, people rarely noticed. As I got older and began to date, I dreaded the times when my date would grab my left hand. I would spend a lot of time trying to position myself on their left side so it was always my right hand they would take. I was so good at hiding my hand that I use to think I could never get married because then they would notice my finger.
Needless to say, it wasn’t until much later that I realized how ridiculous my beliefs and resulting behaviors were. And yet, I think we all have imperfections that we believe will not be embraced by those we love. We end up wasting so much time, energy and resources in trying to cover up our imperfections. The truth is, at age eight, I had already learned not to love myself; I was already rejecting a part of myself. I knew I was different from other kids and that meant I was less than others, some how not good enough. The problem is we are all different. And it is the difference that we see as imperfection. The fact is every person who I have ever coached has their own personal story of imperfection, feeling different and as a result feeling less than others. We go through our lives trying to hide, mask, tweak, negate, cover-up our imperfections from those who might love us. Some of us spend an entire lifetime doing this. Just think of the wasted time and energy based on a falsehood about ourselves. The truth is we were never imperfect in the first place, we just believed we were. Beliefs are powerful. We choose what we believe about ourselves.
Since the age of eight, not unrelated to my first love trauma, I would ask my mom when I could get plastic surgery to fix my finger. She had taken me to a surgeon, at my insistence and he told me I had to wait until I was at least sixteen years old. The day came when I turned sixteen, and I went back to see the surgeon. He took one look at me and said, “young lady, you are so beautiful, no one is going to notice your finger.”
Because the procedure was expensive and I could potentially lose the feeling in my finger, I decided against the operation. But that day, I also decided to believe I was beautiful. In my mind, I began to create a story about my finger. I told myself, I was special and God made me this way so I would be easy for him to find. I was perfectly imperfect.
Every single one of us is perfectly imperfect. Once we embrace this belief, we find that in our differences is our greatness. This is where our unique vision lives. What are you hiding from the world? Once we allow our imperfections to emerge and we become our authentic selves then we can truly be the Visionaries that we are meant to be.