Expunging Flaws

There are many words and phrases I would like expunged from the English/American language, such as “veggies” (I don’t see what’s wrong with “vegetables”), intestinal fortitude (a meaningless phrase since all that is necessary is “fortitude”), executive decision (a phrase that is often misused in place “decision” when someone is talking about a simple personal decision rather than a decision made for a group or a decision with executive power).

My latest problem word is “flaws.” To be honest, there is nothing wrong with the word, just with the concept, especially when it comes to people. This is a word loved by writers who insist it’s necessary to write “flawed” characters for them to be believable, but I have always and will always disagree with this premise.

Tell me honestly, except for a few physical attributes that you might not like about yourself, do you think you have flaws? No, of course you don’t. You think you have problems. You laugh about your quirks. You are beset with internal conflicts. You might even have a list of traits that you try to work on, such as trying to be kinder or more disciplined, but you don’t have flaws. You are who you are. All the parts, good and bad (and who is to say which are which) make up your character.

And if you do think you have flaws, why do you think so? Aren’t you perfect in what you are — you? Who else can be you? Who else can you be?

To have flaws means to have imperfections that mars a person or thing. Why would any part of you be an imperfection? Why would you allow anyone, even yourself to think you are intrinsically imperfect?

You might have things you dislike about yourself. Other people might see things they dislike about you. But why are these flaws? These traits are the very fabric of your being.

Who gets to define perfect? Imperfection? Flaw? And why would we give anyone the power to define such terms?

We are who we are.

Often, we try to “improve” ourselves with diet, exercise, different thoughts, different activities, but these are all just gild on our already perfect selves.

I might not have paid attention to the latest batch of “flaw” words, might have continued to keep my irk to myself, but I recently read an article that attempted to list all the flaws in a certain person in the public eye, and oddly, the article had a completely different impact on me than it should have. All those “flaws” combined to make an incredibly unique human, someone perfect in and of themselves. Hated, of course. Loved, to be sure. Scorned. Admired. Vastly rich according to some people. Bankrupt according to others.

But, oh such a perfect individual.

As are we all.

When we look at a scene, at a flower, a field, we don’t see “flaws,” we don’t even notice imperfections because any supposed imperfection is lost in the whole. And, as with humans, who is to say what those imperfections might be? A flower is perfect in its perfection. A bucolic scene is perfect in and of itself.

Are we less than the fields? The flowers?


To think of ourselves as flawed seems to put us above whoever or whatever happened to create us. It’s as phony an idea as the Persian rug makers who purposely put a flaw into each of their rugs supposedly because of their belief that only God can make something perfect. That speaks to me of arrogance, to believe you are so absolutely perfect you have to create a flaw to make yourself less than perfect.

Billions of years ago, the universe was born. Through untold eons it learned how to fashion various life forms, and finally, it formed a semblance of a human being. A million years later, our present species came into being, and many thousands of years after that, I was born. You were born. Each of us is the culmination of an untold number of twists and turns in creation. How can the end result not be perfect?

So, change the thing you don’t like about yourself, but don’t believe that thing is a flaw. It is not.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

5 Responses to “Expunging Flaws”

  1. Joe Says:

    For the flawed premise of flawed human beings, this is worth pondering. I never really thought of imperfections being lost in the whole. Forest for the trees, and vice versa. Yesterday I was out walking with someone and noticed some lovely rosebushes intermixed with litter and blown trash. I was annoyed with human beings and their endless supply of garbage, but now I realize I was focusing on the trash rather than the beauty of the roses, and now on further thought, I was not noticing the whole thing altogether. Does the trash make the beauty of the roses more vivid? I’m not sure.

    As for proposing the expungement of words, I know how you feel. My particular peeves are anything related to things that historically have been characteristic of women or females, that are now “a thing” for men. “Moobs” comes to mind, and much worse I won’t bother to repeat here. “Man-bag” for the equivalent of a purse. “Man-bun” for the silly gathering of longish head hair into a knot on top of the head. 🙄 And so on.

    • Pat Bertram Says:

      Thank you for responding to this blog. My flights of fancy don’t always get the consideration I wish they would, so I doubly appreciate your comment. As for the second part, yikes, those man-words should never have become part of the lexicon. Yikes.

      • Joe Says:

        Yikes indeed. Speaking of yikeses (to do some fancy wordslinging) I am halfway through “Grief: the Great Yearning” and am repeatedly floored by similarities in our experience. Almost all of page 96 in particular. Interesting. Yes, I definitely relate to your experience as described. And in a month or so I am going to the Southwest desert for a week. Probably won’t scream while on a hike, as I am sort of at a quieter section of this grief journey, at 2.5 years on, but I hope the vistas will encourage some perspective of what I want to do with myself now.

        • Pat Bertram Says:

          It took me more than nine years to figure out what to do with myself. Actually, I still don’t know — I am just letting myself be for now.

          It’s odd to me that people insist that all grief is different, yet in my experience with those who have lost mates who meant the world to them, there are more similarities than differences. Sure, some of us cry, some scream, some bury the hurt, but those are just reactions to the grief, not the grief itself.

          I hope you enjoy your time in the sun and manage to find some clarity.

  2. Judy Galyon Says:

    I love the way you think. I wish my mother had been so open minded when I was growing up. I’m sure I would have
    turned out differently.

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