I am not perfect.
This is a difficult thing for me to accept. I am an idealist by nature, have a deep-seated competitive streak and a bit of a perfectionist complex.
And I know what you're wondering — what on earth could be outside my considerable skill set? (Obviously, I'm incredibly humble.)
Okay, I will dish. I am horrible at giving gifts. No, really.
Consider yourself lucky if I ever give you anything. Gift giving just is not my love language. It is incredibly stressful for me at each step, from thinking of what to get someone to finding that thing to wrapping it up and then getting it to them.
If any one step in that process goes wrong, I am apt to just abandon the whole project. I think to myself, "if it is not the perfect gift, why bother?"
I mean, who wants something bought last minute and wrapped in whatever I have lying around the house? (At times, said wrappings have taken the form of newspaper, shopping bags or book pages, though it never looks as cute as it did on Pinterest — and I cannot bear to spend $5 on a gift bag.)
Many of my friends and family are reluctant to discuss their needs and wants. Okay, to be honest, that is really just me blaming them for my personal hangups. I could take the time to talk to them and, more importantly, listen.
Presents also require planning. I am ashamed to say I've sometimes forgotten the birthdays of my own nieces and nephews. I generally have my days scheduled out but, for some reason, buying gifts rarely reaches the top of my to-do list.
My oldest brother's birthday is this week. Since my siblings are grown adults, scattered from Colorado to Georgia, I tell myself a phone call suffices. A box from Amazon just is not the same as a gift I wrapped myself. In truth, it is usually far more visually appealing, but I digress.
So I resort to a phone call — a video chat, if we can get our schedules to sync up. There have been times when I only sent a late-night text, guilty of getting distracted throughout the day with work and other seemingly endless little tasks that need to be done.
As I've gotten older and a little wiser, I have been learning to give myself grace; permission to be imperfect.
I have learned to remind myself that my family and friends love me despite this "imperfection" that is really a self-imposed standard reinforced by rampant commercialism and social media's constant comparisons.
For friends and family, it truly is the thought that counts — whether that thought is expressed in a quick text or with a bow-topped package.
Grace. It is not only a gift to myself — it reminds me to be gracious to others when they fall short of my expectations.