Life-Saving Imperfection

After another dose of editing Running in Silence, I’ve set aside my book yet again, hoping I won’t have to go back to it too much more now. The staff at Koehler Books get to handle it at this point, which is a relief because I have to let them take it away from me so I stop trying to find more to “fix.” But as my editor Dean Robertson said, “Remember: the book is about recovering from the quest for perfection.”
So I have to stop trying to make the book “perfect.” I figure that if anyone finds fault with it, I’ll just tell them that those imperfections are because the book is exactly that–imperfect! It was my intention all along.

I used to think that once any book was published, it was “perfect.” I used to think that adults were perfect, that I had to be perfect. But my imperfections have made me a happier, more relatable human being, and I’m thankful for my mistakes, my learning process. I am becoming a better person every day by embracing imperfection because that means I go out and try new things without shying away for fear of making mistakes.
Take my most recent job, for instance.
I got certified as a lifeguard eight years ago. Eight. And I didn’t get a job as a lifeguard until just last year, when I decided enough was enough, I needed income, and I had to take on the job that scared the hell out of me. Why did it scare me? Because I thought that as a lifeguard, you had to be perfect. Everyone else would probably be so much better than me. Why go for something I wasn’t the strongest in? I was so used to being one of the best runners on my cross country team, so used to working to be the best, that taking on a job with little familiarity and lots of discomfort was not my cup of tea.
So I reluctantly got re-certified, reluctantly turned in an application, and I reluctantly went for the two job interviews at my local YMCA. Throughout this process of fear of the unknown and huge possibility for so many mistakes, I told myself to take one step at a time.
One re-cert at a time. One email at a time. One job interview at a time.
They hired me, and I started my first day at work in the lifeguard stand terrified out of my mind.
I’m scared to blow my whistle.
What if I do the wrong thing.
Everyone is watching, waiting for me to mess up.
Turns out, I made mistakes (minor ones, mind you–stuff that had to do with rule enforcement, not someone’s life). I learned how to improve as a lifeguard. I practiced stronger communication skills. I began to lead others. I learned from others. I laughed at my little mistakes that allowed me to understand what to do better next time.
And then I began to love my job. It might have had a little to do with the awesome guy I met there (shoutout to my now-boyfriend Alex), and a lot to do with the great staff I was a part of, as well as the person I was proud of becoming.

alex2

I’m leaving that phase of my life today (at least at that YMCA), just as I turned in my imperfect manuscript yesterday. I’m walking into a new realm of more mistakes to make, more growth to be had, but a much more confident woman ready to take on those challenges to grow and live life fully.
It’s crazy to think that it’ll just be three more months before the book will be in your hands–full of fears, quirks, growth, and yes, imperfection. My assignment to you all is to go out and live that imperfect life. It’s the only way you move forward, laugh a little, maybe find a great companion, write a book, the possibilities are endless!
And it might just save your life.

About Rachael

Rachael Steil is a graduate from Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan with a Bachelor of Arts. Steil an author, speaker, and a recipient of the Spirit and Outstanding Runner award for the Aquinas College cross country team and has received 6th place All-American accolades in cross country as well as 7th place in the NAIA track nationals.

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