Life / Real Talk / The Refined Collective

The Refined Collective // Embracing Imperfection


Photos c/o:  Emily Scott // Outfit c/o AYR

I stood there and my mind went completely blank.

Four hundred eyes were staring at me, hot lights were glaring, and I could feel my palms begin to sweat and the panic begin to rise.

Why was this happening?

I was cohosting an event with Anthropologie and it was a dream come true. For over a month I had practiced my spoken word performance without so much as a hiccup.   Yet there I was, frozen, in front of friends, strangers, and clients.  I was mid-poem, and had lost my place.

The panic was increasing by the moment.

For what felt like an hour I stood quietly.  I had three options:

  • bolt for the door and never look back.
  • laugh it off and say, “sorry, this is my first time doing anything like this and I guess I got really nervous.”
  • wait and try to recover my place.

Option one was all I could think about. The voices in my head were screaming at me:

  • I knew you’d mess this up
  • You should just go back to being quiet
  • You don’t have what it takes to pull it off—and now everyone knows it

Amidst all the accusations I had another thought. One that was quiet but steady, and rose above the noise:

She has seen a succulent survive enough times to know that she is much stronger than she thinks.

Amidst all the accusations I had another thought. One that was quiet but steady, and rose above the noise:

She has seen a succulent survive enough times to know that she is much stronger than she thinks.


It was my favorite line from the spoken word. So I started from there, and finished the poem.

As I handed over the mic my hands were shaking.  I got in line with the other girls to join the runway show, which was immediately following the poem.  I was choking back tears when the music started and it was all I could do to put a smile on my face and walk that runway.  I couldn’t leave because I was hosting the event, leading the panel discussion afterwards, and the after-party immediately following that!

But all I wanted to do was run and hide.

I felt like such a failure.

And everyone knew it.

Nonetheless the rest of the evening continued to unfold, and flawlessly at that.  It was an incredibly successful night. The audience was engaged, and an hour after the party ended we had to push people out the door.

People lined up during the after party to thank me for hosting such a meaningful event.  They repeatedly told me their favorite part of the night was the spoken word! A few women even came up wiping tears away to tell me how impactful my performance had been for them.   I honestly thought they were lying to me.

Right before I left, my co-host from Anthropologie came up to give me a hug. And I let it all out—told her how humiliated I was, apologized profusely for fumbling during the poem, and how I wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.

Tears welled up in her eyes.  She grabbed my hands, looked me square in the face, and said she had no idea I’d made a sliver of mistake.  Her voice cracked when she added that she was relieved I wasn’t perfect.

If I, as a leader, can be imperfect, it gives her permission to be imperfect  More importantly, that night wasn’t about me.  It was about creating space for women to feel known and give them permission to be themselves and connect freely and deeply with others.  So I made a mistake—no one was expecting me to be perfect in the first place.  And in spite of my fumbling, the message got out there and landed for multiple people.

I closed my mouth, listened, and received her words.  She was right.

But as I headed to bed that night, I still struggled with so much doubt and shame.  Two of my best friends sent me voice memos of encouragement—knowing me well enough to know I was probably beating myself up.

Through their words I felt God remind me that even if my worst case scenario happens, it’s usually not as bad as I think it will be. No matter what happens, I am still loved.

And further, in my moment of exposure, when I had the chance to run, I didn’t.  Instead of being met with fingers pointing at me when I felt vulnerable and exposed, my community welcomed me with encouragement, truth, and open arms.  Their support gave me the courage to lean into my discomfort and stay.

It has been through many different circumstances over time that I’ve become more awake to my struggles, and the lies I’ve believed.  Through these moments God has given me countless opportunities for growth and healing. 

There are always more layers to peel back.

More healing to be had.

And more freedom to be experienced.

It’s easy to slip into believing that to be worthy of love and acceptance I have to be perfect.  Sometimes it’s subtle, and only through flawed moments that I realize I’ve slid back into this perfection mindset.

The truth is I am not perfect, I never will be.  (This wasn’t the first time I realized this, and it won’t be the last.)

But the deeper truth is that I’ve been loved all along in my imperfections.



This series is a part of The Refined Collective.  Be sure +  check out these lovely ladies + their thoughts on Layers: Lauren ScruggsRebecca Hajek, Erica ChenTutti del Monte, Jackie Viramontez,  Brynna WatkinsJulien Garman, Sarah Shreves





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