I’m Not Perfect, And That’s Okay

I guess you could call me a perfectionist.

I’m the kind of perfectionist who starts things, realizes I’m bad at them, and then gives up.

I’m the kind of perfectionist who looks at something hard, realizes it can’t be done perfectly, and never even starts.

I’m the kind of perfectionist who once started a math exam and realized I didn’t know all the answers, so faked sick and spent the rest of the day in sick bay.

I’m the kind of perfectionist who sometimes gets so swallowed up in my own imperfections that I get lost in a sinking hole of depression and I’m looking for a light switch but there’s nothing, no hope, so I just crawl into a fetal position and give up.

This is going to be a very honest post.

I’m going to be honest, because I know there are other people like that out there. Maybe you are one. Maybe you’re married to one.

I’m going to be honest, because I’ve found the light switch, and while sometimes I lose it, I have to believe that it exists and I will find it again.

The light switch is this: I am not perfect, and that’s okay.

I am not perfect, but I still have value.

My writing isn’t quite good enough for publication, but one day it will be.

The light switch for me, after years of starting things and not finishing, after changing majors a dozen times, after deciding I wanted to be an anthropologist, and then a journalist, and then a criminologist and then a nothing because it was all too hard… the light switch was finding something I loved enough to let myself fail.

I have written two very imperfect books, and dozens of imperfect drafts. I have shared my imperfections with others, with my critique partners and with you guys, reading my blog. I have found a way to get to the finish line, to write ‘the end’, knowing I’m not quite there yet, but believing I one day will be.

I’m an impatient person. I like instant gratification. I like results. I clean the big things first, so I can see I’m making a difference. But life isn’t like that. Good things don’t come easy. My friend Lesley sent me a post from Kristen Lamb’s blog on maturity and patience. She talks about failure and hardship being the fertilizer that eventually lets you succeed.

All these books, all these drafts, they are teaching me things that will pave the way for the book to come, the book that IS good enough.

Maybe it’s about faith. Maybe it’s about your want outweighing your fear. Maybe it just takes time and experience to realize the world won’t end, people won’t stop loving you, just because you aren’t perfect. Maybe it’s about recognizing that failure is ESSENTIAL.

You HAVE to fail in order to succeed.

You guys know the stories, so I won’t tell them again. Every writer in history has written bad words. Every writer in history has been rejected. And those failures, those imperfect drafts, those rejections were ESSENTIAL to their eventual success.

I’m not perfect. And that’s okay.

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I’m Not Perfect, And That’s Okay

5 thoughts on “I’m Not Perfect, And That’s Okay

  1. Such an excellent post, Beth. And I appreciate your honesty, because I think a lot of people will relate (including me). I think it really does take faith, and maturity, and maybe a lot of struggling along in the dark and scary world of failure to really allow us to be enriched by our experiences and become stronger through them.

    Thanks for posting this. 🙂

  2. Well, the draft I’m reading is pretty darn good. Sometimes it’s less about perfection than timing, luck, and placement.

    But I like the whole buddhist philosophy that you can’t feel joy without grief. And I guess the same could be said for success – how can you know you’re there (if only for a moment) if you haven’t experienced failure?

    1. bethanyrsmith says:

      Thanks, Jaye. Still so much work to do, but I’m going to keep working because I know that every draft teaches me something and every failure brings me closer to success.
      I think you’re right, too, that I’ll never really appreciate my small victories if I haven’t first felt the sting of failure.

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