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'I read this poem and finally gave myself permission to not be perfect'

Posted by on Mar. 22, 2016 at 12:23 PM
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I read this poem and finally gave myself permission to not be perfect

~*All the feels*~

Melissa Stanger

Melissa Stanger

March 21 is World Poetry Day, designated 17 years ago by UNESCO to recognize "the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind."

Poetry can also offer a deeper connection to your own feelings and vulnerability — and that's exactly what "Wild Geese," a poem by Mary Oliver, did for me as a young woman — a young woman who had a problem with perfectionism and internalizing other peoples' opinions of her.

I loved the poem so much that I turned it into a collage and gave it to my twin sister when we were 22 because it meant so much to me that I wanted to share it with everyone:

Melissa Stanger art
photo: Melissa Stanger

You do not have to be good.

That line — the first line of Oliver's poem — nearly knocked the wind out of me.

You do not have to be good... Which to me means, you do not have to be perfect. You do not have to be like everyone else.

It spoke to all the loneliness, the alienation, the feelings of being lost and like I didn't belong.

You can be you, the poem told me. You can love what you love, and you don't have to be sorry about it. That is the kind of message — half heartbreaking, half affirming — that I love in a poem.

It's the kind of message I carry with me everywhere.

by on Mar. 22, 2016 at 12:23 PM
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