Hey. Hey you. Yeah, you. I’m writing this blog post to let you know it doesn’t have to be perfect.
What is it? I don’t know. But whatever it is, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
If you’re sitting there, worrying about the final product, not trusting the process, and just worrying like it’s your day job, you should know that perfectionism has taken over, and you’re no longer in the driver’s seat.
Here. I’ve got some affirmations for perfectionism for that.
And look. I know there are tons of “it doesn’t have to be perfect” quotes out there for you. So if this isn’t resonating with you, know that the words you need exist in this world somewhere.
But while you’re here, would you care to hear me wax poetic on why it doesn’t have to be perfect, even if we don’t clearly define the antecedent to that particular pronoun?
Let’s fucking go!
It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
At the risk of being like one of those Pinterest boards full of “life doesn’t have to be perfect” quotes, let’s really belabor the point, okay?
We can spend all day sharing clichés about how nobody’s perfect. We can talk about how great it feels to make incremental progress, even if you know it will never get you to perfection.
But you’ve heard that before. And I’m willing to bet it hasn’t worked if you’re here and still reading.
So let’s get down to brass tacks. Perfection is a trap. I won’t say it doesn’t exist, because it does and many creative folks get stuck there.
The thing about perfection is that it’s not a state of being. It’s a bottomless pit designed to swallow you whole. So you can keep trying to achieve it, all the while falling further and further into that pit.
Many creatives fall. In fact, if you listen, you can hear them all still falling. They scream in frustration, but there is no bottom. They’ll keep falling until they choose not to.
Sure, you have a glossy image in your mind of whatever your “it” is, but that doesn’t mean what’s in your head can ever exist. So whether you want that perfection for a book you’re writing, a day you’re planning, or a cake you’re baking, just know it won’t happen.
I’m not saying to set your expectations low so you can be pleasantly surprised.
But I am saying it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be.
Life Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect
Have I ever told you about the absolute joy of knowing you will never be perfect? It’s my favorite.
(Yeah. I know it’s silly to ask you if I’ve ever told you a thing and then link to the thing I’m asking if I told you. This is my blog. It’s a silly place.)
Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful, meaning you can just do whatever messy thing strikes your fancy. And most often, the mess is where the fun is.
Don’t believe me? Check out this incomplete list of messy things that were the best.
- Free writing by hand with no idea where the idea was going until eventually it became a novella I published under a pseudonym.
- Throwing a ton of takeout Chinese food leftovers into a burrito.
- Just showing up to a thing I definitely don’t belong at, but going with the flow until I walk away with new friends.
- Giggling on the couch with Chris when all the evening plans fall through.
- Quitting my day job with no back up plan before a global pandemic hit.
- Pulling the Wheel of Fortune card and just shrugging about it.
- Eighty percent of the pasta recipes I come up with on the fly.
- This silly blog.
I could go on for a while, but my point is this:
Everything that I enjoy or that I love doing has just kind of happened. I didn’t force it. Maybe I worked toward it, but I also went with the flow. I didn’t say perfection was necessary because I knew I could never achieve it.
I say happily ever after is the journey, not the destination. And it’s with that in mind that I want to encourage you to forsake perfection and just do what feels right.
Not to be a downer, but you don’t have unlimited time on this planet. It would suck to be stuck in the bottomless perfection pit for the rest of your life.
Perfect Holds You Back
So all the while you’re falling through that bottomless pit that is perfection, never hitting the bottom, you’re not doing other stuff.
Perfection holds you back from finishing the thing. And if you never finish the thing, then you can’t start a new thing.
YOU ARE STUCK FOREVER IN AN UNENDING FALL CYCLE AND YOU NEVER GET OUT.
How do I know? Well. I was there. From about age 21 until like 33 or so? I kept working on this novel. And reworking it. And I’ve written the stupid fucking story like five times, and you know what?
It’s not good. I don’t like the idea anymore. I don’t like the story and it sapped so much energy from my life.
But I kept going and tried to get it perfect. I never questioned whether I wanted to keep going. I just put my head down and worked.
And when I finally scrapped it back in like 2019, I feel like I could finally breathe.
I had finally stopped falling.
And after that, I got clear about what I wanted and what I could do. I realized that small, incremental progress was the goal, and I just kept working on things that made me happy and moved toward where I wanted to be.
Since then, I’ve published a short story collection and had novellas in a couple of anthologies. I do some SEO client work, and I keep showing up here on this silly little blog because it’s been a great way for me to find new gigs and opportunities.
And literally none of it has been perfect.