Perfectly Imperfect – Insights From Kelly McNelis
Seems that women are constantly under the microscope to be perfect. Or, at least as perfect as the observer is willing to accept. That not only puts a lot of pressure on us, but often takes our time and focus away from our passions and even our personalities.
We recently had the opportunity to connect with Kelly McNelis. She’s been focusing on helping women live the live they love and break the chains of expected perfection. So we asked her a few questions that you should find helpful and insightful in finding and lighting your own path. Enjoy!
Q: You have a wonderful bio page on your site. The part about being perfectly imperfect is something that really resonates with me. What’s your advice to young women who feel so much pressure to be perfect from so many sources?
A: There is so much to say on this subject! Overall, I encourage the women I meet to embrace their messy brilliance—which I define as all parts of who a woman is: the good, the bad, and the ugly. I’ve discovered that shining a light in the places where we hide or shove all our unwanted feelings is the only way we can discover what we were uniquely born to do and express. While it sounds like a cliche, the only place we can ever find peace is in self-acceptance. You can try to emulate as many people as you want to (whether that be the Kardashians or Oprah), but ultimately, the world needs your vibrancy and your authenticity. It is truly the only thing that will free you from the pressure to be perfect!
Q: In an age of “fake” everything, authenticity seems to be a disappearing commodity. How do we embrace who we are when we know our own faults all too well?
A: It’s all about recognizing that there is no such thing as perfection. Our truthfulness and authenticity also include our faults. Our messy truth is our greatest asset. Fully embracing all parts of ourselves is a radical act because this is where our true power lies. When we learn to accept these parts, we are no longer susceptible to that fakeness. I’m optimistic that we are getting to a place where women are waking up to the lies we’ve been spoon-fed. Media and society have shoved certain images down women’s throats for decades, and we are no longer willing to buy into them.
Many of us understand that these idealized images—of the bikini body or the perfect life—don’t bring happiness. Only authenticity does. But first, we have to individually define what that term means to us. We have to get really clear on who we are: our beliefs, values, and what we want from life. So, start by asking yourself: What are my faults? My strengths? What does it mean to be in integrity with myself? Self-inquiry takes perseverance and self-awareness. You must absolutely get real with yourself and define who you are if you want to make life happen, on your terms alone.
Q: I think the most valuable things in our lives are our children. What do you think a parent can do to begin molding the ideas you share earlier in our children’s lives? Where do we draw the line between allowing them to be themselves and experience the good and sometimes bad of life and being over protective?
A: As a mother of three, and a stepmother to three other incredible human beings, I completely agree that our children are valuable—and, let’s face it, they are our future! In terms of teaching kids important lessons from an early age, it’s important to empower them to be their own people, through information and by modeling good behavior. As a parent, you need to be honest about your own beliefs and feelings, and to also let your kids know that they have the right to form their own ideas about life and to create what they want. It’s also important to nurture their curiosity. Kids have a great tendency to ask “why,” so offer them genuine responses and use the questions as an opportunity to check your own assumptions and truth.
That said, first and foremost, it’s important to put on your own oxygen mask. Stop trying so hard to be a “good parent” and to get it right according to someone else’s standards—trust yourself! In modeling self-care to your kids when they are young, you teach them the importance of self-sufficiency and self-love. I can’t think of a more important lesson.
Q: I’ve seen a lot of articles along the lines of “What I’d Tell My 20-something Self.” I’m in the process of writing a flip on that, “What I’d Tell My 65 Year Old Self.” If you were to be able to do that, what would you tell your older self? What would she be telling you now?
A: I love that question! For me, I’d express a lot of gratitude. I’d thank my older self for her courage and commitment to carrying me through my life. I’d also tell her that I hope she is continuing to maintain an agile mind and explore new ideas, because continued curiosity and the capacity to move beyond our comfort zone is everything. I would also wish that her soul has expanded over the years, and that she has accessed the greatest joy and passion of her life. I’d wish for her that she has even more peace and joy than I do now.
I suspect my older self would encourage me to deepen and enjoy my personal relationships, and to express appreciation more often. I know she’d tell me to stop judging myself so much and to really accept my flaws. She’d definitely remind me that time is short, so I shouldn’t forget to embrace the moment, be present, and simply remember to breathe!
Q: If you could get young women to do just three things THIS YEAR to change their lives, what would they be?
A: I could probably create an entire blog on this topic! I have a few pieces of advice that come from witnessing the younger women in my life, as well as acknowledging my own younger self.
First, there is no rush to race to the proverbial finish line. Many of us are conditioned to believe that we need to have everything figured out by the time we are (insert arbitrary age here). That whole idea is a myth. Instead, my advice would be to grab onto the yearning and passion you have right now and alchemize them into fuel for your success in the future. Take baby steps, because they pay off. Enjoy the process and fall in love with what’s right in front of you rather than trying to step into some “perfect” future you. Because, as you intuitively know, perfection is a myth. Be present to your life in all its beauty, and you will be transformed.
Check your gut, always. This isn’t about simply trusting the intuitive “hits” you get—it’s also about connecting that trust to the information that’s at your disposal. Put those things together to make meaningful decisions. Get curious about what’s really happening and let go of the “shoulds” and “have-to’s.” This kind of discernment is so important, because a lot of times, younger women are taught that the older you are, the wiser you are. This isn’t necessarily true. I think deep wisdom comes from discernment, and a lot of us don’t take the time to cultivate it. We are usually too busy being impatient or judging ourselves. So drop down into your truth and don’t simply take someone else’s words or beliefs at face value.
Finally, always remember that the love of your life is YOU.
Many young women are looking for love in all the wrong places (and let’s be real, so are a lot of older people!). When we focus on getting connected with who we are and what we want, we learn to deeply appreciate ourselves and to recognize our own beauty. This helps us enjoy life even more, and to be open to all that comes our way.
About Kelly McNelis
Kelly McNelis founded Women For One, a global platform designed with a unique approach towards enabling women to live a life they love. The company provides tools for women to manage entrepreneurship, wellness and relationships to reach their full potential for happiness. McNelis and Women For One work to help women embrace who they are and live life to its fullest. She travels the world as a speaker, teacher, and facilitator of workshops, helping others tap into lives powered by truth.