When I am not paying close attention, my left shoulder still slouches slightly inward from when I broke my collarbone in college.
I step too hard on my heels when I walk. I speak and sing with too much tension in my jaw and uneven air support. I touch-type perfectly with my right hand, but hunt and peck with my left. I underuse my pinkies when I play guitar.
These are my thoughts as I struggle to get my left pinky facing down into the plane of water this morning as I backstroke.
There are many people who always square their shoulders, walk correctly, speak and sing well, touch type, and nimbly play guitar. I bet some of them even swim pretty decently, too.
For someone with a reputation as a perfectionist, I have a lot of rough edges. As I look back at learning all of those skills, it not as though I purposely skimped on practice. Well, maybe on walking – you’d have to ask my parents.
Sometimes these imperfections make me afraid, as if I am a fraud at posture and walking and talking and typing and playing guitar. I fear that one day I’ll be exposed as a fake and I won’t be allowed to move or express myself ever again.
It’s not a valid fear. These are my skills that people always appreciate the most – yes, even my fast walking. They are part of who I am, even if I do them a bit wrongly. All I can do to alleviate my fear is retrain myself in increments. Roll my shoulder back every time I notice it leaning forward. Let go of a little of that tension and breathe more. Take the time to play the solo the efficient way instead of the quick way.
My left arm breaks through the water. I swing it up, rotate, and plunge down to slice the water with my pinky finger.
We are all imperfect and we are all improving, and that doesn’t make any of us a fraud.