So the news is out and I’m officially a (soon-to-be) published author.
The outpour of support has been even greater than I imagined, and I can’t tell you how honored I am to be able to share this very specific piece of my soul with you soon. It’s nerve-wracking, though, because I have to–in a very real way–brace myself for rejection. More importantly, I have to shed my innate desire for perfection.
See, for as long as I can remember, I’ve pursued the elusive ‘perfect’ label. In childhood, I made straight-A’s; sang, danced, and acted on stage; was president of clubs; won awards as a mathlete (NERD!); and made a reputation for myself as being the nice girl with a lot of eye liner and upper-middle class “edge.” I also was chubby (I was not), and subsequently binged, purged, and starved my way into my early twenties. I abused stimulants, and did two hours of cardio every morning for the four years I was in college (I also maintained a 3.5 GPA at a high ranking university). I did everything I was good at to perfection, and compressed my anxiety into perfect little packets of silent self hatred. I knew the things I wanted to achieve, but I was too afraid to attempt them because they were out of my scope. I only did things I could do well.
It’s no surprise that the American Dream has done many of us a disservice. One fallout of our culture is that women went from force-fitting the role of perfect mother and homemaker, to perfect working woman, mother, and homemaker. The generation that raised me is full of incredible women worn down to the nubs by a world that demanded each one of them keep her emotions in check at the office if only to be taken even MILDLY seriously (and even then, to have any opinion discredited by virtue of her emotional instability), to only complain about things that affected her family (but not herself), to project manage her home (with zero acknowledgement and a houseful of asshole kids who SIDE WITH THEIR DADS (I’m looking at me)), and to keep everything pristine on the outside. That desire to put on a show of success has transferred nicely to an era of social media and the age of the influencer.
We, as women, learn early that to have flaws means to have weaknesses. That any crack in the veneer leaves us vulnerable. That it is better to never attempt something than it is to fail.
Perfection is our armor.
But armor is rigid, and perfection does not allow us room to grow. Growth, and subsequently success, requires us to try something new, and strike out a few times. To offer a piece of ourselves to the world and welcome criticism. To take a f*cking chance.
When we shed our need to be perfect, we can become other things: audacious, bold, dauntless, adventurous… things that require you to fail before you can succeed.
We, my friends, need to retrain ourselves to fail openly, to take hits and stand back up. And we need to retrain our inner critic to cheer for our sisters when they are down, and not use their failures to illuminate our perceived flawlessness. It’s not enough for one person to take a chance–she must also feel the strength of her friends at her side, and to know that their love is not contingent upon her always being perfect.
I couldn’t begin to tell you the insane host of things this writing process has taught me (though reading my blog posts (and soon, the book itself!) will give you an idea of where my head’s at most of the time). What I can tell you is this: I am only where I am because I have stopped chasing perfection and started embracing my flaws as areas of improvement, rather than things to be tucked away behind a shiny set of filters. I have had people who encouraged my failures, who offered critiques with kindness, and who gave me opportunities to grow. I am where I am because people have LOVED me enough to let me try new things, to stumble a bit, and have helped me stand back up.
And you want to know the funny part? It’s perfect.