This website and blog concept (yes, the very site you’re looking at right now) has been a dream of mine for years. YEARS. I’ve owned the domain name for five years, and that was a huge step that only took place after several previous years of brainstorming, calculating, and envisioning. For five years I have been waiting for the right time, the right content, and quite frankly the right level of personal expertise necessary to launch. But the closest my dream ever got to manifesting itself was rolling around in my brain and showing up on about a hundred stray post-it notes and journal pages littered with ideas I was too afraid to bring to fruition.
Story. Of. My. Life.
I prolonged and procrastinated. I made excuses. I found anything else to do to avoid the real work of implementing the thing I’d been dreaming of for years. I grew deeply frustrated, and every time I got discouraged with the pace of my passion project, I forced myself to reexamine my WHY. WHY did I want to do this? WHY did I feel the need to share my words? WHY did my audience need me? And every time I addressed these burning questions the answer remained the same: I want to empower people to live the best version of their lives. To help them take stock of their habits, challenge their old ways of thinking, encourage personal growth, and cultivate lifelong dreams. To uncover the possibilities lurking beneath the busyness of life. To slow down. To connect. To empathize. To practice acceptance. To find a comfortable home inside their own skin.
Noble pursuits, right? But there was a hitch in my giddy-up: Who the heck was I to preach to others when I struggled to practice these concepts myself? How dare I? The audacity! I set a new (completely unattainable) bar of perfection—one of my specialties. I would launch once I felt worthy to lead an audience who could draw inspiration from my perfection. <barf> I would learn all of the social media tricks, build an eager online following that anxiously awaited new content, stage Instagram-worthy photos of my products, craft flawless content, and live 100% by the book I’m teaching from, and only then could I launch. (I kind of want to punch myself right now even reading that.)
Let me be clear, these were not explicit rules I set for myself, because even I would have laughed at them if I’d ever seen them in writing. But they were absolutely the unspoken rules I had agreed to in my mind: People are harsh, so I better be bulletproof. I don’t want to get hurt, so the only way to ensure that is to be perfect. I don’t want people to be disappointed in me, so I better find the magical way to please everyone. What could go wrong? More accurately, what could go at all? Nothing. Which is exactly what I did. Underneath that nothing, I’ve been thinking and dreaming and procrastinating and obsessing and editing and practicing and worrying and self-shaming. You just haven’t seen it, because ya know, perfection is a private thing cultivated behind closed doors. <eyeroll> I’ve been committing full-time energy to this part-time project with no time in the public eye. Somehow worrying about my work hasn’t helped it to reach my impossible standards. Go figure.
I always knew my audience would be made up of people like me, but it turns out my audience includes me. This simple quote from Richard Bach created a paradigm shift that freed me up to recognize that I don’t have to be perfect to share good ideas. I should try my best to practice them, but mastery does not need to precede sharing. In fact, what needs to come before mastery is vulnerability. Putting myself out there in raw, unpolished form is a requirement before I can truly grow into the best version of myself.
When I’m in a good place, I have great ideas. When I’m at my best, I can implement those ideas. But even when I’m not at my best, those ideas are still worthy of sharing. My audience needs to hear these things, and I am my audience.
It’s time to stop holding myself to a standard I would never expect from others. I would have ample grace for a friend who was beating herself up over imperfections. It’s time I be a friend to myself. After all, one of the tenets of Poetic Soul is to give grace. I’ll go first.