You know what’s great about being a toddler?
Aside from the obvious, I mean. (Someone else prepares all your food, you never have to fold laundry, you get a regular bath time.) Other than that.
Everyone knows you’re a work in progress.
It’s universally recognized: you’re still growing. No one expects you to be complete yet, when you are a toddler person. I know this because I live with one.
Wear a penguin suit and fairy wings to the grocery store? Sure. Spend an entire morning making train noises? All right. Rub hummus into your eyebrows? Why not.
Those things don’t reflect on who she is, they reflect where she is right now. She’s free to explore without judgment. We try to guide her in the right direction, but we understand. This is where she is in her journey. This is where she’s supposed to be.
She’s learning. She’s growing. It’s fine. She’s a work in progress.
I am also a work in progress.
You are a work in progress too, though probably with less misplaced hummus. You know how I know? Because we’re human, and we’re alive. If you’re still breathing, you’re still growing and changing. You’re in progress.
The things you do — and any mistakes you make — do not reflect on who you are. They might reflect where you are, but you aren’t going to stay there, because you’re a work in progress.
Once we get to be a certain height, we start to forget.
We think we’re supposed to be all good, all the time.
We think we’re supposed to have arrived. We forget we’re still on a journey.
We start asking, Am I doing this right? Is everyone judging me? Am I good enough? Am I enough?
What I’d mostly like to be is, oh, I don’t know, maybe … perfect?
“Perfect” sounds very tidy and way less embarrassing than my actual day-to-day life, the life where I make mistakes and messes and fall flat with alarming regularity. And yet: work in progress.
I don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be perfect.
There’s freedom in that. You can’t get to perfect no matter how hard you try, so you don’t need to try harder.
You don’t need to try harder to know it all.
You don’t need to try harder to do everything just right.
You don’t need to try harder to fake it, either.
You can relax, and just be who you are today.
You aren’t alone. We’re all walking around trying to get our ducks in a row as we go. (Or else we’ve given up and are 1. enjoying the wild quacking and 2. trying not to step in poop.)
The great thing about being a work in progress, though, is that you can do it. You can keep becoming more of yourself, more of who you are, more of who you were made to be.
I think we’re afraid to show our imperfections sometimes because we’re afraid of being called out as frauds. Imposter adults.
The truth is the other way around.
You can be your real self, with your own passions and personality and history. You can do the next right thing today, whatever that may be. You can help the people around you, by doing whatever it is that you do.
When we make mistakes, those might be invitations to grow.
Those might be places we can learn to love better, to help better, to support better.
But mistakes don’t change who you are. Mistakes and missteps don’t make you any less YOU, and they don’t make you any less ENOUGH. You are enough, and you are growing, and you are becoming more of who you were born to be.
That is work enough for today.
Even without the hummus.