I will never be good enough.
While this seems horrible to say about oneself, I have to find a way to convince myself because I am a perfectionist. But I also have really terrible self esteem issues. Basically, this means I never get anything done.
(I am the type of person that writes letters and never sends them. I think I have hundreds at this point. Lara Jean was lucky to only have four.)
I want anything I produce to be perfect. I want to present this perfect face and image to the world, but I am so terrified of creating something I am proud of that gets ripped to shreds by public opinion. Nothing I write is ever totally up to my standards, though, so frequently I only have the beginnings of stories that I want to write. I had twenty to choose from for NaNoWriMo. It’s as if I am not failing my own expectations if I never actually write anything. In a similar way, I never want to have to publicly apologize on the internet. I strive to be as unproblematic as possible. Which shouldn’t be as big of a goal to me as it is.
My father once read something I wrote when I was very young, that age where I was a great writer in my own mind. He told me it wasn’t worth the paper I wrote it on. That still haunts me to this day.
I let my dream die that day. I hid all of my notebooks, I stopped writing anything outside of school work. Occasionally I would still write in my journal, but it was never the same again. I gave up.
Until a few years ago, when I could no longer resist. Sometimes your calling comes back to you in mysterious ways. Mine was a creative writing class.
While this class brought back my passion for writing, it didn’t fix my perfectionism. I never turned in a piece I was one hundred percent happy with. Some of them were finished in less than fifteen minutes. I don’t have to be critical of my work if I know it wasn’t my best effort, right?
Even writing this was difficult. I had to force myself to sit down and write, even though knew I was at a point that I knew I needed to write to protect my own sanity. I know how to let myself be flawed in my private space, with only my own thoughts for company. I know how to be flawed around the people closest to me, which stopped including my parents some time ago.
What I don’t know how to do is be flawed in public, be flawed with the public.
I was reading Sarah Manguso’s works recently, namely 300 Arguments and Ongoingness, and I was amazed at how personal she gets with her audience. As someone who has been very “conceal don’t feel” since my early teenage years, I couldn’t understand how that was possible. The thought of allowing people that close was horrifying. It still is, to some extent, which is why I hide behind a wall of anonymity. It is far easier to brush off a stranger’s disapproval than someone who knows you, and knows you well.
I think another factor that plays into this issue is that I don’t believe in myself enough. I know that when I really throw myself into something, I can accomplish whatever I want, but I rarely can bring myself to do that, for multiple reasons. What if I can’t actually do this, what if I have an over inflated idea of my own abilities, etc. When it comes to writing specifically, many times I don’t feel like I have anything to add to the conversation. What more can I say that hasn’t already been said? What do I have to offer that no one else does? I don’t know. I guess I am still trying to figure that out.
For now, my goal is to make this area of my blog like my journal when I was younger. It was a space for me to sort myself out whenever things were too overwhelming. I allowed myself to make mistakes, to cry, to laugh, to scream, to dance on the page. I was an unedited version of myself between those pages. I’m trying to trade pencil and cheap notebook paper for a keyboard and flimsy lines of code. So, for me to be able to do this in a way that I can live with, I have to remember that I’m never going to be good enough. I’m going to make mistakes. I will likely make a fool out of myself more than once, and I’m sure I’ll have to make a public apology at some point.
I may never be the writer I want to be, and I have to find a way to live with that. To be content with simply being a writer and let the “good” half come later.
I’m not perfect, and I’ll never be good enough.
I’ll just be me.