good enough.

wine_lhSomething that’s been part of my recent education, my creative recovery, is the idea of “good enough.” This speaks deeply to the perfectionist in me. 30 years later, she is so very tired.

It’s like this website. I don’t know much about coding, but I’ve managed to slap together something that doesn’t look terrible. Part of me wants to keep going, to keep tweaking, until I feel my website is perfect. That’s the shiny-haired part of me, the part that doesn’t go to the store without makeup on, who doesn’t talk openly about the problems in her life because she has an image to uphold.

And then there’s the frizzy-haired side of me, the one who says dammit Lauren, my eyes are going crossed, and I want to watch Fuller House. Leave it. It’s good enough

I never used to listen to that part of me. Probably because she looks like a hot mess and desperately needs to pluck her eyebrows.

“A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” ―Paul Gardner

But you know what? The older I get, the more I like that frizzy lady. She’s salty. She doesn’t take nonsense from others — because she knows she’s worth more. She knows that her value doesn’t come from being good at everything. That it’s not her job to be flawless. (That’s what they pay Gwenyth Paltrow for.) That when you put in work, the result is often not perfect, but it’s good enough.

It’s like that with writing. Whether it’s this post or the fifth chapter of my book — which I was just working on, and agonizing over. The problem with that is before you know it, you’re like this is bad, my work is bad, my book is going to be terrible…and then you never finish it.

Elizabeth Gilbert quotes her mother when she says “Done is better than good.” And oh, how my shiny-haired lady squirms at that statement. How could you possibly put something into the world that isn’t GOOD, let alone PERFECT? Aren’t we supposed to DO OUR BEST?

Yes, of course. We must do our best. But we must also not agonize over all the tiny details until our eyeballs fall out from under our eyebrows, however groomed or ungroomed they may be. Because you know what happens to work like that? It never gets done. It gets picked over, and criticized within an inch of its life, and by the time that process is over it doesn’t have the backbone or the grit to stand up to anything. So it goes into a shoebox or a deep dark computer folder and never sees the light of day.

I have far too much work that’s suffered that scrutiny.

Paul Gardner said “A painting is never finished – it simply stops in interesting places.” Sooner or later, you have to realize that it’s fine, it’s good enough, and it’s time to move onto the next thing.

I had a long talk with my dad the other day about careers and life’s work. We agreed that you can work on the same thing until you die, saying “oh, I could do just a little bit more.” But by the end of that, you may be so burned out on the thing that you forget why you started, you forget the joy that the work originally brought you. You didn’t stop in that interesting place where you knew to stop.

The alternative to that is that you stop at that interesting place, and then you get to keep the joy that the work brought you AND start new work that will bring you a different kind of joy.

Do that instead.

Because either way, it’s done. Which means you get to do the next thing. Like watch Fuller House.

10 thoughts on “good enough.”

  1. I’m reading this at 4am and I can hear the birds outside letting me know it’s a new day. This resonated with me Lauren, I found myself nodding along.

    ‘Work that never gets done.’ Is the way I would describe the way I have written over the past 6 years. I’m 21 and have written on a blog under different pseudonyms for those six years. Never really sharing, posting and deleting because I scrutinised myself at every corner. In the end I stopped writing and it spirals doesn’t it? You suddenly think you can’t, that you never could.

    I’ve started again, using different passions of mine as a vehicle and what I realise now is that sometimes you’ve just got to press post whether you like it or not. Thank you for this. X

  2. You are singing my song, speaking my language. It’s so hard to always be the shiny girl when the frizzy girl needs a day sometimes too.
    Btw I spent time reading your about. Despite how you may sometimes feel, I for one have never thought of you as a massive failure just because your life is “different” now that the LfT I originally crossed paths with. I know that won’t change your feelings inside but still wanted you to know 🙂 you are real

    1. Thank you, Jill. It’s such a comfort to know I have wonderful people like you who have followed along for so many years and still say I am “real.” It means so much. <3

  3. At a time where I struggled with this at its peak — the perfectionist inside you never really goes away, it just allows itself to not argue on your behalf — I found an image with a John Steinbeck quote which said: “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.”

    It’s my phone locked screen wallpaper, and it’s a great reminder. It forces you to let go, to like the parts of you that isn’t agonized over… And it’s there to make sure that you care for the right reasons.

    So glad you’re writing and I wholly understand all you said in this post. <3

  4. Gosh, so good. This particular got to me “It gets picked over, and criticized within an inch of its life, and by the time that process is over it doesn’t have the backbone or the grit to stand up to anything.”
    The it can be anything, it can be your work and it can even be yourself. Because when you aren’t being perfect, it can be so easy to just tear yourself apart over it, at least me anyway.

    1. “The it can be anything, it can be your work and it can even be yourself.” YES. I was just having a talk the other day with a couple of older ladies about how critical we are of ourselves and how very few people see what we see — and they probably only see what we do when we point it out. Learning to love and accept oneself is SO important. Here’s to more of that. <3

  5. This was great and I’ll tell you why… It reminds me to stop and smell the coffee (err roses?) I can’t remember.
    I need to take a deep breath and just be in the moment. Stop worrying about the what ifs and just live it.

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