Wabi-Sabi: The Beauty of Imperfection



Someone very close to me recently said to me, "Grace, I think you're too hard on yourself."  This I knew already, but hearing it out loud from someone else was almost enough to bring me to tears- had we not been sitting at a crowded local bar where I'm likely to run into familiar faces.

Role call! All overachievers and type A's raise your hands! In fact raise both of them because one isn't good enough! As long as I can remember, I have wanted to be the best. The best what, you ask? Best student, best daughter, sister, friend, girlfriend, teacher, athlete, barista, dog owner, tea drinker, shit- you name it. This quality is not all bad, as it has allowed me to achieve many of my life goals so far. But here's the problem: nobody is the best at everything. Nobody is or can be perfect.  So I often find myself having a hard time coming to terms with my humanness. How can I be okay with myself when I don't meet my own (high) expectations? How can I be an acceptable human being even though I fail, like a lot? 

Anyone feel me here?

Wabi Sabi is a Japanese aesthetic that describes beauty as imperfect, incomplete, and impermanent. It is not only the acceptance, but the celebration of imperfection in all things. Many Japanese arts have been influenced by this idea of Wabi Sabi over the years. The Navajo Native Americans also express a similar philosophy in creating their baskets, rugs, or jewelry. They will purposefully weave in a single thread of a rug that is the wrong color, or put one mismatched bead onto a bracelet to signify nothing is complete unless it's...imperfect.

Only two days after this initial conversation, I was having coffee with a different person who said (I can't remember the exact context of this statement) "I like to leave myself some fuck-up room!" My first thought was, "Huh?!" Second thought was, "Brilliant. I could use more of that."

Another friend of mine just yesterday was telling me about a photography project he's working on that involves various people's scars, as an expression of how life has a way of leaving its mark on us. 

I've yet to meet a single person who doesn't have scars. Might as well celebrate them, right?