The 5%: Embracing Imperfection


“We aren’t here to make things perfect. The snowflakes are perfect. The stars are perfect. Not us. Not us! We are here to ruin ourselves and to break our hearts and love the wrong people and die. The storybooks are bullshit. Now I want you to come upstairs with me and get in my bed! -Ronnie Commareri, Moonstruck

Even Ronnie Commareri’s great getting laid/we’re imperfect speech in Moonstruck still hasn’t stopped me from kicking myself every time I miss glaring mistakes in my own writing; and it hasn’t stopped me from reading those silly fairytales to my child (at her request), even though they are indeed full of it. In storytelling, however, the imperfect is desired. There is no story in being normal. Normal is a snooze-fest. Books are full of outcasts and outlaws. History is often made by people that refuse to play along. When I go to a party, I don’t look for the normal people. I look for my people – the slightly off-beat, most likely to say something inappropriate group.

Lately, I’ve noticed even the animated princesses are getting the flaws-and-quirks makeover. I admit, I’m a little bitter at never seeing the movies I want. Instead of Dallas Buyers Club or American Hustle, I got to see Frozen – three times. I’m not a big fan of Disney and all things princess, but as soon as the movie’s over, I hear mothers approving the atypical ending – no marriage, and true love finally means something other than romantic love. The princesses were funny and clumsy and real. Well, bravo! Disney allowed one of their good-looking characters to finally pass gas after holding it in for a 100 years. Let it go, indeed.

Aside from books and movies, we still have a long way to go embracing the imperfections in our own lives: the curves of our flesh, the dust on our furniture, the kids eating poptarts for breakfast and bombing a test. Women and men still starve to fit in, wearing the right brands, hanging in the choice circles, imposing this upon their children like they, too, are stuck in middle school. We can applaud other people’s imperfections. We just can’t seem to applaud or embrace our own. It’s like Jerry McQuire receiving a standing ovation for his mission statement: “The Things We Think and Do Not Say,” then hearing crickets when he asks, “Who’s coming with me?” (Standing out on a limb can be a breezy place.)

I read a NYT article last Sunday by Pamela Druckerman, in which she states, “More about you is universal than not universal. My unscientific assessment is that we are 95 percent cohort, 5 percent unique.” I actually agree with this statement, which is all the more reason to embrace our 5% and make it count. The 95% were never where the stories were to begin with.


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