Life is about redemption, not perfection.
I clearly remember the day I met my master. It was two-and-a-half human years ago. I was only a year old at the time, and I met him after my ruff beginning in life. I already had been abandoned by my first master, then I got hit in the road, then I had a leg amputated, and then I was abandoned again at the veterinarian’s office.
I was sure nobody wanted me. I was a dog without a master to love—a major failure in dog standards—and I was rather depressed about my situation.
So, when the man who I was told would adopt me came into the vet’s office, I bounded out to meet him with as much exuberance and cuteness as I could possibly muster. “Wow,” he said to the vet, “missing a leg certainly doesn’t hold her back any, does it?!”
I thought to myself, as I smiled the biggest and most impressive smile that I could, “Will this man actually be willing to adopt an imperfect dog?”
It was almost like he knew what I was thinking. He looked straight at me and said, “I’m far from perfect, too, dog. Nobody is perfect. We’re going to get along together just fine.” Over the time that we’ve been together, I’ve taught my master many things—mostly about the benefits of imperfection.
You see, I can tell that he has this internal standard to which he holds himself that he deems as “perfect,” and this standard tends to evoke havoc when things don’t go quite right. I’ve been trying to teach him that this standard comes into our lives at an early age from external sources, no matter what species we are.
My master is learning that we get this notion of “perfect” by listening to the way those around us say we ought to be, by comparing ourselves to the way “normal” members of our species seem to be, and by prioritizing the way “professionals” in science (and dog championships) say we ought to be.
The problem of trying to be perfect, I told him, is not to be blamed on our parents or our peers, our religions or our sciences, our social norms or our media outlets, but with how we internalize the standard of perfection with such severity that, in reality, we would never be able to succeed according to this standard.
The perfectionist is his or her own worst enemy and, of course, is bound to feel like a failure… like a dog with no master.
Failure is marked by self-loathing, feelings of worthlessness, and—if left unchecked—utter despair. But the truth is that nopawdy is actually expected to be perfect! That truth is the solution, and it is that truth that, as it’s been said, sets us free.
Our job is not to be perfect.
Instead, our job is to radically accept imperfections. It’s the obligation of the imperfect to stop saying “but” and to start saying “and.” This is why I say—
Yes, I only have three legs… and, watch me run! And, watch me dig! And, watch me use my imperfection as a way to motivate me to make both my life and your life a bit happier.
Don’t get me wrong—I know it’s not easy to embrace imperfection. I know why my master tries to hide his flaws: It requires an act of humility in a world where pride and ego seem to reign supreme. However, in order for you to be free from your fears, as I always tell my master, you must first accept that you are not perfect!
It’s only at the point where you know what your challenges are that you can begin to overcome them.
Everypawdy loves a success story. They love to watch a three-legged dog outrun and outromp the “normal” dogs. They, like my master back on that first day when I met him, have an instinctual, gut-based reaction to seeing me run as though I had four legs: “Wow,” they say, “Missing a leg sure doesn’t hold her back any, does it?!”
And what they’re saying reveals a simple and powerful truth about existence, regardless of what species you are: Your life is about redemption, not perfection.
Ada Mae Compton is a a three-legged dog living the dog’s life in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. “Some gas worker from Texas brought me to Pennsylvania and then left me as a stray. Then, I got hit in the road. Now I only have three legs. Then, some guy adopted me from the vet’s office– and now life ain’t half bad. When I got adopted, I got a new name. It is ADA. It stands for Americans with Disabilities Act.” You can find Ada on facebook.
Editor: Lynn Hasselberger