By: Ashley the AVERAGE imperfectionist Smith In tears, crumbling. My life seemed to be failing, closing in and disappearing all at once. I was terrified to lose "everything" -- to be void of the identity I clung onto tighter than my white knuckles could grasp, afraid to not be "me."

The labels. The perfect me. The ideal me. The best me. The overachieving, hard-working me.

The illusion of me.

I was exhausted. Spent. At the end of my rope, really. Ashamed and afraid, tormented and broken. Embarrassed. So busy trying to keep up, to be accepted -- that I denied myself of living. I became a task, not a person. I became a goal, not a masterpiece. I labeled myself before I even had a chance to know me.

Before I realized it, I had created a set of rules and guidelines of performance, and if I did not please my imaginary (invisible) audience, I became a failure: inadequate, lazy, incompetent. The guilt continued to pile on, and the cycle of "achievement" became more impossible and I was ashamed.

Sitting there in the office, crying, feeling like the world was ending, defeated, believing I was a failure...I muttered the words,

"I am just so embarrassed. I am not who I think I am. I should be able to do more, be more"

And he replied,

"You are way too hard on yourself. Ashley, you have to allow yourself to be AVERAGE."

And the truth is...

I would have rather died than be average.

I have built a reality of coping, where survival meant perfection ... meant being more than average. Better than average. Better than the best.

But that is NOT reality.

Reality is beautifully messy. Reality means we can make mistakes, fail, succeed, try again... Be human.

Being average means I can allow myself to live again. To experience life as fully and wholly me, not the labels of "me."

The real ME is loved human imperfect liberated graced with infinite chances

No longer bound by the constraints of myself, I am beginning to see the beauty of average. The gift of simple. The release. The margin to experience and explore the depths of love.

It does not matter how average I am or what I have or will achieve. It is irrelevant to the true reality, the beauty of grace. Nothing compares.

Authentically YOU, no matter how average, is more spectacular than any LABEL of you... Or me.

Today, give yourself the grace to be YOU; we accept you and love you as you are.