Facing Imperfection
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Facing Imperfection

Roni Robbins is associate editor of the AJT.

There are people I offended this year and in the past. The vast majority are forgiving. I bear the pain of the few who aren’t. There are those who have offended me, the memory of which, unfortunately, remains years later. I wish it wasn’t so. But those are very personal stories I don’t wish to share.

Harder than those incidents to forgive, whether hurtful words or actions, is pardoning myself. For eating badly, for making mistakes, for not having the courage to take a chance, for missed opportunities, for fear, for failing to filter my thoughts before they spilled from my lips. I certainly join others in this obviously unattainable quest for perfection.

How does one move on from one’s faults and face imperfection?

I love this weight-loss tip that just because you break one egg doesn’t mean you smash the entire dozen. You make the mistake and push through. Why? Cause there’s always another hour, another day, another chance to prove, to achieve, to conquer. You have to keep the bigger picture in mind.

In my 20s, I discovered Weight Watchers and I lost like 40 pounds. Ok, I’ve gained some back in more recent years. When I get off track, I return to the basics, understanding the science and balance of healthy eating and exercise. Yes, it takes amazing self-control. My friends and family will tell you I have more than most.

Pride is also an amazing motivator, especially when it comes to forgiving oneself. Yes, I’ve made mistakes, but I’ve also achieved some success.

People who know me now are amazed that I was once shy, inhibited and lacking confidence. That was before I discovered my passion: journalism. I knew I was a good writer – others told me so – but how to make a living with this talent? Book author? I didn’t have it in me then, in high school, when I was considering career paths. Journalism? Perfect. A job that pays me to write daily.

What I didn’t really bargain for were the press conferences. How could I be aggressive when I wanted to hide in the back of the crowd and let others ask the questions? Not what a journalist is supposed to do, right? So I got aggressive, and I turned in the news story, over and over until I conquered that fear.

Sometimes I still feel the shy girl longing to be the big-time journalist. It’s the same mirror in which I see myself zipping out of a larger me. The fear of returning to what I was keeps me pushing forward.

Last example: I have to admit I had a bad attitude when I worked at the AJT in the 90s. I came to Atlanta from The Birmingham News because my fiance – now my husband of 25 years on Yom Kippur – was here. I gave up working for mid-size daily papers to do so. I carried that chip on my shoulder for four years, until I found a way back to writing for bigger publications again.

But I returned a year ago to the AJT in a much better role, with a larger perspective, bringing 30 years of journalism experience to bear, and I’m enjoying the new educational experience as an editor.

I guess the moral is: Whenever I feel down that I’m not doing enough – not remarkable enough, not thin enough, not reaching my full potential – I try to keep in mind that I’m also not done. There’s another opportunity awaiting. There’s another challenge to be met. I can do this. And if I want to forgive others, maybe I should start by forgiving myself first.

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