The first thing I ever sewed looked like a grade two craft project. The first thing I ever cooked tasted like burned garbage. The first thing I ever wrote was a poem about Kurt Cobain (and it was bad). The first person I ever dated was a certifiable f**k boy. The first haircut I ever gave was a disaster. The first bleach out I ever did was with actual kitchen bleach (sorry Amanda).
Nothing I have ever become good at was an automatic win. Nothing. And if we’re truly honest with ourselves we will see that is a common thread in the human experience. Any craft takes time to perfect, we’ve got to make a few bad choices to figure out the right ones (hello my entire high school experience). Even people who are born with immense confidence in their abilities probably look back on their earliest work and cringe. And that’s how it should be. What are we here on earth for if not to grow and learn?
Humans are social creatures, we long to be accepted by our peers and the human condition is often to reject that which is not familiar. This is why we look to the doctor, lawyer and corporate exec as barometers of success. They fit into a format that is easily identifiable, replicable and proven. They don’t even have to be good at what they do, just the fact that they have obtained that position is enough. There is a safety that comes from choosing a path that our peers approve of, but we can’t all be doctors lawyers and corporate execs. If we were, our world would be lacking…we need artists, entrepreneurs and visionaries.
The path of the artist is often paved with self doubt. So many people, myself included, can become so paralyzed by the fear of failure that we fail to take any action at all. We are already so far out there forging our own paths, how scary it can feel to do anything that may draw even more attention to our radical selves. Rather than risk looking stupid or making something bad, we stay in our lanes and remain consistently mediocre. We use all the pretty crayons but are careful to color in the lines.
I acknowledge that it can be terrifying to embrace failure. We don’t want to end up with pie on our face (and an empty bank account) but maybe our journey as artists depends on taking those risks. Maybe taking a pie to the face every now and then is just what we need to keep us moving forwards.
I have friends who have put off starting their business for months because their logo wasn’t perfect. Ask yourself this, have you ever been about to buy something online and stopped because the logo wasn’t to your taste? We let ourselves get so hung up on insignificant details that we fail to take any action at all. If there is one thing I have learned in my 35 years, its that the greatest breakthroughs always come on the heels of the most epic failures. Hindsight is 20/20 and we can gain the most clarity by looking back on our flops, pivoting and strategically moving forwards. Use that shitty logo, you can always change it down the line.
We must stop trading perfection for progress, perfection is an illusion that none of us will ever achieve and progress is a reward for those of us who allow ourselves the indulgence of failure. If we are not cringing at our earlier work, then we are simply not progressing in our craft. For some people, the predictability that comes with mediocracy is enough, but if you’re reading this, and if its resonating with you, you are probably not one of those people. You probably feel in your soul that you are destined for more and you thirst for it like water.
Ask yourself this question today. What is the one thing you would like to do but you’re hesitating on because it’s not yet perfect. Maybe its hitting publish on a blog post, maybe it’s reaching out to an influencer, launching a giveaway or starting a podcast (me!). Now ask yourself, what is the worst thing that will happen if you do it? Will you die? Will other people die? If the answer is no then you have the all clear for take off.
Feel all the fear, self doubt and apprehension, wallow in it for a minute or two, and then go for it. If you end up with pie on your face clean yourself up and be grateful for the free meal.