It’s one of the recommendations I found online: “You have to write epic shit if you want to build a successful blog.” Useful and true.., but I spent around five hours behind my laptop yesterday and all I managed to produce were lousy fragments. As a result I filled up with doubt. The first five pieces on my blog came quite naturally, but will I manage to keep the pace, I asked myself? Will my posts be any good? And will people remain interested? I was struggling.
My typical solution to struggling? Get a bulldozer and break through all the obstacles!
So while the words wouldn’t come and a clear structure remained nothing but a vague hope, I carried on. I squeezed out another crummy paragraph, realized it wasn’t much better and got impatient. The perfect weather didn’t make it any easier; I should be outside with friends instead of being alone and behind my computer. Right?
Unfortunately, tolerance for imperfection isn’t my strongest suit, especially when I’m judging myself. Successful bloggers told me “epic stuff” should be the standard and my scribbling was nowhere near. I felt the lurking risk of falling into paralysis or worse, abandoning writing. Nevertheless I pushed myself. No mercy. I had to finish.
However, after a lengthy and painstaking process of trying but failing to write epic stuff, I finally capitulated and went out for a walk. There’s this little pathway in the neighbourhood that runs along waterways, crosses fields and passes a castle. Obviously, hitting the road turned out to be the right decision. The walk lifted my mood and created the space in my head for my thoughts to flow.
Does everything always have to be epic? Can’t I be proud already that at least I started writing this blog? Making the change from Internet consumer to producer was a pretty big step for me, especially because my blog contributions are quite personal and accessible to all. Previously I was one of those passive Internet and social media users, the type that ‘secretly’ looks at other peoples’ profiles without showing much about his own life.  Sure, now and then I ‘liked’ stuff on Facebook, I sometimes even ‘shared’ a post or article by someone else and occasionally posted pictures after a holiday. But that was about it.
The shallow online picture I presented of myself didn’t go further than the image of an educated happy traveller working for the ministry of foreign affairs, a photography and music-loving guy that likes the sea and is surrounded by friends (if I have to believe my Facebook timeline). Nothing wrong or strange there, no mention about struggle, doubts or pain: living a happy life by the book and adhering to contemporary social media etiquette of selling your best self.
By writing my blog I do exactly what I find so difficult, I open up, allow myself to be imperfect and expose myself to criticism. To see that showing your imperfections leads to support and deeper connections instead of rejection was an extremely valuable lesson to me last year. It’s a tough insight to really grasp, the more so because the limited tolerance for imperfection I experience myself is a broad societal trend fostered by the picture perfect culture of social media.
So what if my post isn’t perfect, does that mean it can’t be ‘epic’? Not necessarily if epic is defined as Corbett Barr meant it: writing that makes people think, inspires people, changes lives, creates value, or blows people away with its usefulness.
Don’t let your fear for imperfection prevent you from taking action. Frankly, when it comes to people I think perfection rather than imperfection is prone to rejection (especially in relationships). This is because we don’t like to be confronted with people that are so perfect there is no living up to them and that make us feel as if we should be (seemingly) perfect too.
Epic isn’t the same as perfect.
Do you have an example to share where showing your imperfections actually brought you further or closer to someone else? Or do you recognize my search for perfection and the risk of paralysis that comes with it? If you decide not to leave a comment, is that because you couldn’t think of the perfect mainstream reply? 😉
Please share your thoughts!
 Did you hear about the 1% rule? It states that on any given internet community typically only 1% of the users create content, about 9% comment, edit or moderate, and 90% of the members are passive users that only consume. While often proved right for communities, this rule does not apply to the internet in its entirety. For a moment I thought that by writing my blog I joined the exclusive 1% of producers of internet content but that is not the case. For example, a study carried out in late 2012 suggested that only 23 percent of the UK population (rather than 90 percent) could properly be classified as passive, while 17% of the population could be classified as intense contributors of content.