Below, discover the four undeniable reasons why you are not broken – and why even if you do feel broken, it may not be such a bad thing after all.
You Are Not Broken
This title is a lie. Kind of.
The truth is, I’m not here to convince you that you’re not broken. In fact, if you walk away from here still feeling like you are, that’s okay. That doesn’t mean I, or you, failed.
You get to choose your perspective, and I honor that. When it comes to the deep, inner work, I’m not here to tell you that one way of thinking is good or right and another is bad or wrong.
So if you leave here with the belief that you are not broken, that’s okay.
And if you leave here with the belief that you are broken, that’s okay, too.
You see, my hope for you is not that you come to either of these resolutions.
My hope is to help you reframe your relationship with the word “broken” itself, because the truth is, being broken isn’t actually such a bad thing after all.
Reason #1: Because you are no longer the wide-eyed, innocent child you entered the world as (which is a good thing)
When you were born onto this earth, you had no preconceived notions. You had no past experiences with which to compare your present. You had no prejudices. No biases. No hate. You had never experienced betrayal. Your heart had never spilled out of your chest and broken in shards around your bare feet. You had never felt embarrassment or shame. You didn’t know hurt. You didn’t know pain.
When we say we are broken, it’s often because we’re comparing our present selves to the wide-eyed, innocent human beings we entered this world as. We reflect upon this innocence as if it was somehow better. We dream of a utopia where we could live in that perfect, unblemished state for the entirety of our days.
But that is not our reality.
The reality is, as we grow up, we do experience hurt and pain. Our hearts break. Sometimes, our palms cling to our chests as we fall to our knees, and it feels like we no longer have a heart at all.
Slowly, we learn that the people we love so much aren’t perfect, and we experience that first crushing encounter with disillusionment when our idols disappoint us for the first time.
We give our heart to another human being, and they decide to return it, and when they do, it somehow looks and feels different than it did before.
We learn that we’re not good at everything and there may even be some things that we’re very, very bad at.
We get a low test score or a critical comment, and we take it as a reflection of ourselves, as if it somehow undermines our own worth.
And as we grow through our teenage years, into our twenties and beyond, we start to think that life is really, really hard, and we wonder if it’s only really, really hard for us. How does everyone else seem to have it all together?
And this is when you decide you are broken.
Because you are no longer that wide-eyed, innocent human being you came into the world as. Because you are now imperfect. You are now flawed. You have cracks and crevices and missing fragments that you’ll never get back.
But this isn’t actually brokenness.
This is living.
There is not a single human being on this earth who gets to keep all their pieces as they grow up. We all lose bits of that wide-eyed innocence as we travel through life.
But we also gain.
We gain so much.
Because we’ve lost these pieces of ourselves, we’ve made room for something new and different. We learn about the beauty of contrast: how experiencing the bad makes the good so much better. We forge new relationships with strangers, and these relationships somehow become even better and deeper, because they aren’t built on the pretense that either one of you has to be perfect; the only expectations are that you come as you are. Experiencing the lows make the highs so much better. The seeming failures make you savor the successes even more. And one day, you may even realize that there were no failures. Just redirections, leading you to something better.
You are not broken because you are no longer the innocent, wide-eyed child you entered the world as.
You are whole because you have experienced the entirety of life’s ups and downs and you’re still bravely standing here today with a strength and fierceness you never would’ve or could’ve known back then.
That’s what you gained when you started to lose fragments and pieces of your former, childlike self.
You gained strength. You gained power. You gained passion. You gained a richer and deeper capacity to love. You became fire and ice, soft and hard, gentle and strong, all at the same time.
Reason #2: Because these scars exist within all of us, but we do not see the hidden pain in others, so we believe we’re the only ones
One reason why we feel broken is because we feel like we are the only one feeling this way. And it makes sense. I don’t want to attack social media here, because I personally believe in the power of using social media for good, and I think there are a lot of incredible people trying to show their raw and vulnerable selves on social media rather than trying to portray perfect lives. I’ve seen more and more of it lately, and I couldn’t be more grateful for those people. Because even I have to admit that it can be really, really easy to get caught up in the pictures of perfect lives and think that something is somehow wrong with me because my life isn’t equally as picturesque as someone’s beautifully curated Instagram feed.
Even I have unintentionally given the impression that my life is something it’s not. On my private social media accounts, I almost never post. Maybe once or twice a year on Facebook, less on Instagram. Usually, my posts come after a cool hike, camping trip, or vacation. It’s not something I’ve ever given a lot of thought to; those are just the only times I ever take pictures. Otherwise, my life is exceptionally boring in the best way possible. (I love being a homebody.)
But I started to notice something over the last couple years. When I’d see family members or acquaintances who I only ever encounter on special occasions, they’d make comments such as, “Yeah, I see all your pics on Facebook. It looks like you’re always on such cool adventures. My life is boring in comparison.”
That was not my intention.
I am not always on cool adventures. I am the ultimate homebody. Most of my outings are to the grocery store or my parents’ house for football on Sundays. I love predictability and usually dread really big social events, even with people I genuinely like, because I’m a major introvert, and socializing takes up a lot of my energy. Sometimes, it takes days to recharge.
I don’t believe most people are intentionally trying to curate their lives to look perfect and pristine. I think that, as it was for me, it’s usually unintentional. The key here is becoming aware of it. When you see a social media account that looks too good to be true, know there are layers you’re not seeing. Become conscious and aware of your thoughts. If you realize this triggers something negative in you, then unfollow anyone who makes you feel like your life doesn’t measure up (even me, if I ever have that effect on you). Choose to follow people who share their flaws and hard days. Choose to follow real.
None of us have perfect lives. None. There is so much in you that I don’t see, and there is so much in me that you don’t see. The things that make us feel “broken” are often the things that we have in common but are too afraid to share. So I apologize to you right now if I have ever given the appearance that my life is perfect. Nobody’s lives are perfect, and there is nothing wrong with you if your life doesn’t “measure up” to another person’s beautifully curated Instagram feed.
You are not broken because the images you see of other people’s lives look somehow more beautiful, happier, and more perfect than yours. Again, I am a huge supporter of social media, but social media is not real life. It’s the curated version of ourselves we choose to show the world. So anytime you open Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media app, do so with a big, heaping dose of self-love and awareness. Find the people who call to you, who inspire that whisper deep in your brain that says, “This is real.” Look for the ones who are honest and authentic and vulnerable, who make you say, “Thank God! There’s someone else out there who feels exactly like me!” Listen to your inner knowing, and never, ever compare your real life to the images you see on the screen.
Reason #3: Because there are people and entities out there who profit off of you feeling broken, incomplete, and/or like you need to be fixed
To be honest, I had a difficult time including this one. I operate out of a place of unconditional love. I believe in unconditional love. I see it. I share it. I strive, in all my imperfections and flaws, to be it. And I also believe the world is what we make of it, and when I look around and inside me, I see a generous, compassionate, kind, and loving world. That is what I want to continually write about and share with my readers: the inherent beauty and love of this world we live in.
So when I write about this, I write about it objectively, from a place that doesn’t get pulled into the darkness but rather sees the darkness and chooses to shine my light.
There are people, companies, and entities out there that profit from you feeling broken and inherently less than. Chances are, you can name several off the top of your head. Sometimes, though, it happens and we don’t even realize it. Advertisements, especially, often aim to sell products by making us, as consumers, feel like we are unworthy and incomplete without that product.
I don’t want to get too far down this rabbit hole today, as this is part of a much larger discussion. Like I said, I truly believe we live in a generous, kind, loving world, and I believe the good far outweighs the bad. But it would be irresponsible of me to not acknowledge that there are people out there who profit off of our insecurities.
So here’s what I encourage you to do: in any situation in which someone is trying to sell you something, whether that is through advertisements, in your daily interactions, or through another medium, ask yourself: what are they trying to sell me on? Are they trying to sell me on the idea that I’m not worthy as I am right now? Are they trying to make me feel somehow less than? Are they making me feel like something is inherently wrong with me? And does this match up with my vision of my highest and most authentic self?
Unfortunately, there may be people in your life who also personally gain when you feel broken and incomplete. Know that you don’t have to listen to their words, and you also don’t have to react with the same negativity. You know what’s infinitely more powerful than responding to cynicism, defeatism, bleakness, and hurtful words with equal negativity?
Respond with love.
You don’t have to give them any more of your time, energy, or presence. Just see them, and then choose differently. Choose self-love. Choose spreading love to others. Choose loving this universe you get to be a part of. And then carry on walking forward on your path, always toward the light.
You are not broken, and you do not have to listen to anyone who tries to make you feel otherwise.
Reason #4: Because the cracked and broken pieces inside of you are not empty; they’re filled with solid gold
Have you heard of Kintsugi? It’s the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold, silver, or platinum. Instead of trying to make the broken object look as perfect and unblemished as it did before, this technique honors the history of the object by acknowledging its imperfections, and then somehow creates something even more beautiful from its flaws.
Kintsugi embraces and honors the imperfections of an object rather than trying to cover them up. It does not dispose of the broken; it adds value because it was broken.
I can’t think of anything in the world more beautiful than this belief.
If you’ve gotten this far, and you still believe you are broken, then I encourage you to reframe your perspective about how you perceive brokenness. Brokenness is not something to cover up or conceal. It is not a blemish you need to hide from the world. It is not proof that you should be disposed of and replaced by something shiny and new.
Brokenness is a gift.
You are delicate and rare. Nobody in the world has experienced what you have. You have lived fiercely and loved wholly. You intimately know grief and heartbreak because you have had the courage to love with your whole heart. You’ve taken risks. You’ve made decisions with your head, and you have made decisions with your heart. Some of these decisions you might wish you could take back, but you know deep down that they all led you to become the person you are today.
Maybe you’re still hurting. Maybe you’re still in pain. And I know it’s hard to see it now, but I promise, one day, it won’t hurt so much. One day, you’re going to look back and understand how all the events in your life led you to this beautiful state of being. And you’re going to look at yourself, and you’ll see your gold. You aren’t the perfect, unblemished person you came into the world as, but somehow, you’re something better.
Your cracks are not empty.
They are filled with solid gold.
And the world needs you. Because there are other people who are hurting. Others who are just now becoming intimate with pain, and they need your guiding light. They need to know that it will get better. You see, these cracks and brokenness make you valuable, priceless, and so, so needed.
You are stunning. You are the Universe’s perfect artwork, and you are held in such love and reverence. When your heart broke, when you made the decision you wished you could take back, when your chest cracked open on your bedroom floor, the Universe did not dispose of you. It held you tenderly and gently, and then it lovingly honored your history not by concealing or hiding your cracks, but by filling them with something even more brilliant and perfect and precious and rare. With beautiful, stunning gold.
So whether or not you still feel like you are broken, embrace it. Honor your past. Honor the experiences that made you who you are right now. This does not mean you have to cling to them. Quite the opposite, actually. It means seeing them, acknowledging them, and then walking forward as your whole self, loving every golden crevice inside of you.
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Zanna Keithley is an author, poet, and social media content creator who writes short prose dedicated to inspiring readers to follow their dreams, trust their intuition, and create beautiful and fulfilling lives. You can find her original writing on Instagram @zannakeithley.