Kintsugi is a Japanese art where lacquer and gold powder fill in cracks in broken pottery. The piece is considered more valuable as the breakage is part of the object’s history.
Growing up in a broken home, I often blamed myself for other’s distress. I tried to be perfect so everything would be OK, and over time, developed OCD. When I achieved my goal of getting into medical school, this perfectionistic pattern fueled my impostor syndrome. It was only a matter of time until everyone found out I wasn’t ‘good enough’ to be there.
No surprise, I became a child psychiatrist. It never occurred to me that my specialty choice was about understanding my childhood and learning how to ‘fix’ myself. With endless clinical hours helping others heal from trauma, there was little time to process the triggering aspects of the work. I never slowed down to care for myself and continued to give from a place of depletion. Aren’t good doctors supposed to be selfless?
Even 15 years into practice, I often questioned my abilities. Since I wasn’t perfect, there must be something wrong with me. Through steady mindfulness practice, I’ve been able to notice and challenge these thoughts. I don’t have to spend energy reframing them; I can let the negative thoughts fall into the background. I’ve learned that gratitude doesn’t require me to be thankful for my past—I can celebrate where I am.
Imperfections are not a defect; they are reminders of our journey. A Facebook meme attributes this quote to Gloria Steinem, “The final stage of healing is using what happens to you to help other people.” I’m proud to be a ‘good enough’ doctor. Meditation and yoga have filled in my cracks with gold.