I didn’t write anything last week. I was supposed to. In order to keep up with my ‘new stuff on Wednesdays’ schedule, I should have. But I didn’t. No new writing.
Well no, I take that back.
I didn’t POST anything last week. I definitely wrote something. I wrote 759 words of something. About wellness, or something. But I didn’t post it because it wasn’t good enough. Not bad, per se. Certainly not awful. Just not good enough. TBH, I’ve seen other posts on other websites that are worse than it, but that didn’t convince me to add this drivel to mine. Even though it wasn’t awful… It just wasn’t good enough.
Still, I considered posting it. All of the blogger-y advice went through my head as reasons to do so. You need to remain consistent, they say. Your audience wants to hear from you, they write. Just post so you can stay on the social radar, they advise. Things don’t have to be perfect, they have to be passable, they promote. I let it all marinate in my brain parts…
Then my own voice kicked in: You don’t do things that are just passable. Your editorial calendar shouldn’t lower your standards.
So I didn’t post it. Because I was right – I don’t do ‘good enough.’
It is here that I should mention that I’m a proud perfectionist and this trait is a major influence on how I approach the world. Perfectionism gets a bad wrap because it is linked to scary things like eating disorders and debilitating burnout, and less scary but still not great things like poor time management and general stagnancy. Wanting to do something perfectly can lead you to not start it at all because you don’t see how it will turn out to your standards. Worse, it can leave you profoundly unsatisfying with the things that your stressed over because all you see are flaws. There are studies that show this, and I’ve seen it firsthand. (And if you watch shows like Project Runway, you see this every week.)
But that’s not me. I’m not that type of perfectionist. I start and complete projects all the time, on time, and am usually eating well while doing it! (Cooking is one of my coping-with-stress activities, so it balances out rather deliciously.) While I can often see flaws in my work that others don’t, I don’t see them as things that make me any less okay with what I’ve done.
I’m a perfectionist who believes that, though nothing is perfect, I shouldn’t stop striving to get there. And I definitely shouldn’t settle for ‘good enough.’
To me, perfection is doing my absolute best. Somewhere along the way – probably during one of my masters programs – I realized that my absolute best is the only standard that I should be chasing. If it’s not that, then it’s not perfect and should not be offered up as something that represents me… no matter what other people said. When I was doing my dissertation, my advisor often commented on how good my drafts were. I don’t think she ever quite understood that the drafts I sent her were often the fourth or fifth version of whatever I was writing. I wasn’t about to send this esteemed professor the pile of hot garbage that was often my first through third drafts! That was out of the question. (She appreciated it, too.)
IMO: ‘Good enough’ is such a terrible standard to hold things to. Why not strive to do things as well as you can, all the time? Why settle for something that is just a step above mediocre?
I don’t know if it’s my social location or what, but I don’t believe in accepting mediocrity. I don’t have that luxury. I have to do my best work all the time just to be put in the same category as someone whose work is mediocre simply because of my identities. As I’ve stated before, I was fed heaping mouthfuls of “Work twice as hard to get half as far” as a child, so I can’t afford to be average. I can’t produce work that is merely passable. I don’t have the privilege of settle for anything that is ‘good enough’, so I always shoot for more. At this point in my life, it’s an habitual behavior…
But back to the post that wasn’t.
It’s a good enough post… Which is not good enough for me, so it’s not good enough for you. I’ll probably give it a makeover and post it sometime in the future. It can get there, it’s just not there yet.
And neither am I.
And neither are you. (Unless you are. In which case, cheers to you! Share your secrets in the comments!)
This whole to-post-or-not-to-post thing reminded me of the importance of listening to yourself. You know what is best for you. You know what is best for your career, and for your life. It’s great to consider advice from other people (and I’m honored that you get at a least a bit of it from me!), but nothing can substitute your knowledge of yourself. Sounding boards are nice, inner voice is better.
But some people don’t trust their inner voice. Some people don’t know how to listen to it, and don’t understand why it is giving the advice that it is. Last month, I wrote about the importance of Y-O-U in career exploration and development. The messages from these posts (which, ICYMI, can be found here, here, and here) can be extended into all facets of your life. Knowing who you are, what you stand for, and what you want out of life are the keys to having a satisfying existence in the world.
(They’re also the keys to more tangible things, like effective decision making re: blog posts!)
This is why I created my course/ebook Do You! (A sample of which can be found here.) Too many people don’t have the self-knowledge necessary to live happily and that’s sooo not okay! Know you so you can ‘do you’… whatever that means for Y-O-U, because that’s all that counts!
I’m sorry if you missed my post. I apologize to my readers who look forward to my weekly doses tips and advice. But it’s like what Tom says all the time on Top Chef – if it’s not good, don’t serve it. And trust, I’m not going to do you like that!