Imperfection is your Superpower
I do not fit perfectly into any one, single identity. When demographers, marketers, and political operatives start looking at who we are, it is easy to assume that people are all of one kind. But the reality is that none of our identities fit any perfect model - in other words, we are imperfect.
We all contain multitudes. All of us are made up of a combination of our families, our places of origin, our life stories, and our interests. In my case, for example, I’m an activist, a CEO, a mom, South Asian, a punk-rock kid and way more.
This may sound like common sense, but think of how often we focus exclusively on one part of our identities. This is the root of a lot of the political division in our country: the idea that certain groups – say gun-lovers and environmentalists, or white suburban soccer moms and black criminal justice reformers – are just one fixed thing and will almost always disagree.
Bridge-building is not about overcoming a vast divide that separates us, but realizing that our bridge has to span a far smaller divide than we ever knew.
That is where our imperfect identities can be our superpower. Because that gun-lover might also be a hunter and fisher who is concerned about wild spaces and pristine water. Or, that environmentalist may also be a small-government conservative who believes that homeowners should have more rights to install solar, regardless of local zoning laws. That mom may be active in a faith community that emphasizes redemption and second chances.
Our imperfect identities, in other words, are exactly what makes us capable of bridging divides. Too often we assume there is no chance for agreement before even getting to know the other person. When we can begin to share our full selves – in all the ways that make us perfectly imperfect – we may find a place of overlap or discover a pathway to working together.
So for me, imperfection is the starting point for progress. Bridge-building is not about overcoming a vast divide that separates us, but realizing that our bridge has to span a far smaller divide than we ever knew.
Imperfect Uniter of the Week
National Week of Conversation was created for those exhausted by division and hatred. You’re invited to bring your passion for issues in an environment where you can be heard. We welcome all Americans, across our many differences, into conversations that can rekindle relationships and help us relearn how to be the “we” we know we can be.