“You awake? :)))”
“Do you have the energy for me to unload some of my crazy on you? :)))”
And so our text exchange began, the type of long drawn out texting that unfolds late at night, when there is so much to release, and kids’ perky ears still awake and within earshot. The types of text conversations that you can only have with dear friends who will respond to the 11 pm pings and whistles, happily and without hesitation.
On this particular night, my neurosis was indeed just that–neurosis. I went on to share a certain pressure that I had been feeling. A few blog posts ago, I had received some wonderful feedback about how my words had been especially meaningful to one of my readers. I was so touched that they had found some wisdom in what I had written, and that, in a sense, my words had helped them.
After all, that is why I write.
But since then, I found myself chasing the high, if you will. Trying to “knock it out of the ballpark” with another sage post. Trying to say something important and unique and memorable.
To make matters worse, what wanted to be written lately was poetry, an art form that was entirely new to me. I don’t know how to write poems. In fact I know nothing at all about poetry. But I love the chance to play and stretch and yes, suck at it too. I love the vulnerability of expressing myself in an unfamiliar way.
What I didn’t love was the feeling of somehow falling short of my readers’ expectations. What if my poems were not as meaningful as my other blog posts? Where was the wisdom? Was I disappointing my supporters? In my poetry-playing, was I somehow depriving my readers of something they had come to look forward to, a post to learn from every week?
If you want to kill your creative spirit (and over-inflate your ego), try engaging in an entirely self imposed pressure to write a perfect, life altering, mind blowing blog post every week.
My phone lit up: “Why are you doubting yourself and your work? Your readers don’t want perfect. If anything, your readers want more of YOU.”
And yet another ding: “You are putting too much pressure on yourself. Remember why you started your blog. For your children to read one day. Remember them. Remember your intention.”
Yes. Thank you dear friend.
My intention from the beginning was to be real, true, and most of all myself, as I show up on the page. I don’t want to be perfect. I don’t want to save anybody. My readers don’t need my “help.”
My readers need my honesty and transparency and my humanity most of all. They need to feel my love, one shaky, uncertain word at a time. The last thing they need is shiny wisdom, which inadvertently has left us all feeling inadequate and needy at one time or another.
We were texting about my blog, but as always, it was a reminder that writing mirrors life and vice versa. My desire to get it “just right” has often paralyzed me from taking risks big and small. I didn’t go for the English major because it wasn’t part of the pre-med plan. I struggle with letting my kids be free to have a do-nothing summer because I fear a blank college application. I wanted to take a couple of years off to travel but never found the right time or opportunity.
I don’t wear the red lipstick because I simply don’t trust that I can pull it off.
Letting it all hang out while we seek and screw up and struggle for answers in the dark isn’t how it’s supposed to go. Taking small and big detours and not knowing and figuring it out as we go isn’t necessarily the life plan. The unfortunate lipstick choices and dead ends aren’t the parts we are comfortable showing to the world.
But that is the truth of how we all unfold. That is how we all grow towards whatever light we are each uniquely designed to find. Whether we like it or not, and whether we share it or not, that is the reality of how most of us navigate our days.
I am grateful for the mid-night soothing of my (entirely unrealistic) anxiety to change the world one blog post at a time. Because in some ways, we actually all need to be a little less perfect. What if we could simply show up as we are, and share our stories as a way to let ourselves out and let others in? What if these words represented what we most long for–a relationship between you and me?
So today and in the week ahead, I invite you to join me in noticing where you might be imposing perfection upon yourself. How does perfection paralyze you? Are there small ways for you to show up just as you are?
With gratitude, Monisha