Recognizing flaws just as important as embracing them

By Sehar Siddiqui

We all have a flaw we love to brag about. You might hear someone say something along the lines of “I admit I’m loud and obnoxious, so I will constantly be loud and obnoxious.” But is that admission a character flaw or just a mild annoyance to other people? 

Even if admitting your flaws were a minor annoyance, you probably wouldn’t admit to it so easily. There’s a certain amount of pride that comes with being able to say things like, “Yeah, I’m loud and proud of it,” or, “I’m a little headstrong, but it’s better than being passive.” 

Flaws are interesting — they make people seem more exotic, more unique. But admitting your flaws shows confidence and even a degree of maturity — and it may take some critiquing to get there.

Despite being able to admit to being loud or headstrong, there’s a difference between romanticized flaws and true flaws. 

Because many times what others perceive as flaws, you might consider as positive attributes, and vice versa. Sure, someone being obnoxiously loud on a packed airplane would probably be considered as a flaw by others, but to the loud person, it might be his defining characteristic.  

A romanticized flaw, then, is one of those flaws you’re pretty proud of and maybe even excited to admit. It’s also probably a flaw that only hurts you when it annoys other people (which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that big a big deal). 

Being outspoken, for example, is a romanticized flaw. It’s exciting to tell people that you readily share your opinions and aren’t afraid of rebuttals. Some people might get annoyed that you’re always ready to disagree or argue, but as long as it’s not excessive, that flaw alone probably won’t inhibit you from success. 

True flaws are trickier because they’re the ones that can inhibit us from success. This is why most of us don’t like admitting to, thinking about or even considering we have a flaw that is deeper than something that shows purely on the surface level. What’s even harder than realizing and admitting our flaws by ourselves is accepting the criticism when we hear it from someone else. Flaws and criticism go hand-in-hand: Chances are if you’re talking about flaws, you’re going to talk about the criticism you received about them, too.   

With finals looming, it might do us some good to suck it up and think about why someone might be pointing out a fault. It’s easy to start defending ourselves, pointing fingers and insulting the source of the criticism, but usually there is a good reason someone is giving you tough love. 

Take professors, for example. For the most part, they are not out to get to you. As hard as it may be to believe, they genuinely want to help you improve. At some point a professor may have criticized your writing. This might be a crazy idea, but it’s not a jab at your lack of skills, so stop freaking out. It’s a professor’s way of telling you he or she sees potential and want you to work on something to get better. 

And in the long run, it’s better to just start working on areas of improvement as soon as they’re pointed out to you. 

We’ve all been there. We get some feedback on an assignment or performance and kind of brush it off because we disagree or don’t want to deal with it. But it’s worth it to try harder rather than allowing that flaw to cause you failures multiple times before finally doing something about it. 

If one professor noticed it, other ones will be bound to point it out in the future as well. Ignoring the flaw isn’t going to make it go anywhere, so it’s better to just work on it instead. 

Sometimes we can self-reflect and realize our true flaws, but most of the time we need help from a structured source to get there. Being comfortable with your more exciting flaws isn’t enough for success. Accepting critique from others and actively working on improving yourself is much more difficult to do and far more important to success.

Sehar is a junior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @nimatod.