The writing process can be messy. In my current job on the farm, I get the privilege of seeing most written pieces before they are posted publicly. I also get to see people’s anxieties as they hand me work from their hearts in various levels of polished. I may get the original chicken scratching that Aunt Jill lovingly calls the ‘sloppy copy,’ or I may only get to see the final copy. Either way, as with life, the sloppy copy is a necessary part of any final project. It can be embarrassing, because of all the mistakes you “should’ve” caught or the errors you didn’t even know were wrong, but you MUST do this step in order to get to the next step.
As a recovering perfectionist, this realization has been pivotal for me. As a kid, and adult, I am often the one that can stump any teacher or boss with so many questions they just throw their hands up. This is not due to my deep understanding or profound wisdom, but quite the opposite. I can get so pulled down by the irrelevant details that I will someday need for proficiency, but I can’t even perform the simple task they’ve presented.
Along the way, I’ve had to embrace my fear of failure by knowing that I WILL fail, but I won’t be able to learn or experience anything if I don’t go through this process. I have fallen on my face, literally and figuratively, so many times at this point, that I sort of look forward to it as I know it is a sign that I’m learning. The new things I’ve learned along the way have been worth the temporary anxiety, the frustration, and the failure.
I’m learning that the revisions, the learning, the refining are the fun parts of life. Those are the times when I’m growing and soaking up the world around me instead of dwelling on my depression and anxiety. It is after I’ve pushed through this uncertainty that I’ve discovered freedom that comes with failure. I am able to see that I made a mistake, but I am not a mistake. I fail, but I am not a failure. I am frustrated, but I am not depressed. I am pushing forward and looking forward, not dwelling on the past or fears about the future.
This allows me to refine my character as well by attempting new behaviors that are unfamiliar but necessary, and let me tell you, the sloppy copy, as well as the next few revisions, are rarely good. BUT they are necessary, so no need be embarrassed by them!! Like me, if you are trying, that is the most important thing. Keep walking forward. “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6).
In the process, I am desperately trying not to teach my youngest son to accept this perfectionist paralysis in his young life, so I wanted to share a saying that we’ve come up with through many frustrating days of homeschooling, “First, do what you know to do, then do step two.” It helps him to stop, take a breath, look, and see if there is anything he CAN do. Then, he can focus on that ONE thing. Once that is done, he looks to see what is next. At first, it will seem like you are going nowhere or just taking baby steps, but keep your hand to the plow. God will always have something in front of you, if your reliance is in Him. And don’t worry, there is no need for a final copy until you pass from this earth, and He knows when you are ready for that as well.
“Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.”
— Written by Kati
The picture shows Kati’s practice and mistakes while learning to crochet.