Sometimes I am really pretty BAD at life.
Sometimes I’m quite good at parts, but other times? Total shitshow.
It’s important to talk about this, because mostly we only see things that look PERFECT. Perfectly toned, perfectly styled, perfectly lit, perfectly photographed, perfectly blissful, perfectly crafted, perfectly effortless!
And that’s just not how life feels for most of us, most of the time. It feels messy. Complicated. NOT perfect.
In fact, one of the great gifts of working privately with incredible women over the last decade has been learning that this is true for EVERYONE.
(Even the people you admire! Even the ones getting the awards and the deals and the salaries and the titles! Even the ones with the perfect Instagram feeds and the big houses and the beautiful children and the impeccable wardrobes!)
Everyone has parts of life that feel hard and complicated and are-you-fucking-kidding-me. This is just part of being alive, my friends, and it doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong.
Working with my bona fide rockstar clients, who’ve accomplished so much by any measure, who are often envied by those around them, has shown me this. Getting an intimate glimpse into their ongoing triumphs and struggles has helped puncture my fond illusion that there will be a time or place when I’m going to ARRIVE, when all the struggles and challenges will be behind me, and I’ll drift in a peaceful sense of satisfaction and ease and humble glory forever amen.
Ok, confession time– mostly I know that. Almost all the some of the time. But another part of me is still convinced, against aaallll evidence, that a big pile of money and a killer book deal and a house on the coast really WILL make everything perfect! Surely! Because oh hi, I am human.
But the wiser part of me knows that this just isn’t how life works.
There is no “there” there. We’re never done until we’re…done. The more successful you get, the more interesting problems you get to solve. You get to tackle challenges with higher stakes. Take risks that scare you. Make choices that make you bigger and braver. You get to do work that matters to you, with people who are wildly fascinating, where the glee and terror are both enormous.
This is totally worth shooting for! It’s SO MUCH MORE fun than mediocrity and it’s NEVER boring.
But this is not the same as things being PERFECT. And the people doing the most interesting things will usually be the first to tell you that there is no such thing as perfect.
When you see the endless glossy photos, the “overnight success” stories, the smug #blessed posts, sometimes it’s hard to believe it.
And then something awful can happen, dearheart.
You can start to assume that if it isn’t going effortlessly for you, if things aren’t perfect, you must be doing it wrong.
And you start to think that maybe….well, maybe that means you just aren’t cut out for that life you wanted.
This is where I wave my hands wildly in your face and shriek loudly: DON’T FALL FOR THAT!!!! No no no no noooooo!!!!
The people who are getting things done? They’re not doing it perfectly either. They’re just willing to keep going, even when it’s all kind of a shitshow. Maybe especially when it’s all kind of a shitshow.
I’ll use myself as an example, since I’m sworn to secrecy on behalf of my clients.
Nothing is perfect here, dahlings.
I am not a perfect parent. I lose my temper. I get irritated. I yell. I pick the wrong battles, dig in my heels over something stupid, but then get lazy and yield on something that matters. I seethe. I am impatient. I am inconsistent. (Note that I’m not beating myself up about these things; I’m just telling the truth.) But this is the important part. Those things are all true, but so is this: I just refuse to quit and decide I’m just meant to be a sucky parent. I just refuse to accept it. /// So I go apologize. I adjust. I tweak. I start over. I take a breath. I try again. And again. And again.
I am not a perfect writer. I have an ongoing commitment to myself to write 300 words a day that are just for me. This takes only TEN MINUTES, loves. I am my own boss, and there is no reason I cannot keep this commitment. HOWEVER. You know how many times I wrote my words this week??? Two. Two!!! And the second one was today, out of sheepishness, because I knew I was going to write you this missive and I was too embarrassed to tell you only once. /// And then? Even so? I just refuse to quit. In spite of all the evidence that I have failed at it this week, that it’s hopeless, that I don’t have what it takes– I just start again.
I am not a perfect anything, dearheart. I booked a plane ticket this week at exactly the time I’m supposed to be teaching a class. It’s been 9 months since my last dentist’s appointment. There are bean sprouts currently rotting in my vegetable drawer. The inside of my minivan looks exactly like you’d think it would if I had five kids. Which I do. My teeth are getting crooked-er and yellow-er by the day, I have a big red zit on my cheek, and I haven’t done my daily “move my body for just five minutes for heaven’s sakes” exercising EVEN ONCE this whole month. But I did eat a bag of chips and stay up too late finishing The Alice Network.
And you know what? That’s ok! IT REALLY IS OK. A lot of shit gets done around here even if I’m not perfect. I still wrote this weekly love missive to you. I still coached my heart out. I still submitted our documentary to a bunch of film festivals. I’m still feeling big surges of simple summer joy, like I wrote you about last week. All 27 of my children (ok all five) are alive and fed and clothed, and there are even peonies on my nightstand.
My commitment isn’t to being perfect, but to NOT GIVING UP.
Try this with me; it’s wildly liberating.
I’m going to keep writing even though I have trouble sticking to a routine. I’m going to keep taking one step toward the parent I want to be, no matter how badly I might have sucked at it yesterday. And I’m going to snap that selfie of myself in my minivan, crooked teeth and zit and all, because I felt really happy that day and I want to remember that feeling.
What about you??? What’s the thing you are NOT going to give up on???
Declare it. Whisper it. Write it down. And then just do it really, really badly. And then again. And then again. And then– yup– again.
Because it doesn’t have to be perfect. You just have to decide it’s yours. And refuse to give up…every damn time… until it’s really fucking gorgeous.