The Problem with Being Good

I don’t normally struggle with writer’s block, but a few weeks ago, my efforts to edit my novel hit a can’t-see-the-end-of-it, can’t-see-the-top-of-it stone wall. Words got harder and harder to find, like a river that shrank to a stream that shrank to a trickle, before drying up completely.

At first I wasn’t sure what was blocking me, but then I noticed that I was critiquing every word before I put it on the page. I was mentally scrolling through every suggestion I’d ever heard in every class I’d ever taken or every blog I’d ever read, trying to get it right, trying to make it perfect.

I had become attached (again) to the idea of being a good writer. It was killing my creativity. And yet even though I knew this, I couldn’t stop doing it.

Perfectionism is an addiction—you can know better, but that doesn’t mean you can stop.

So I took a break from working on my novel, and that’s when I found my savior, in a running chicken.

Have you ever seen a chicken run?

They aren’t graceful. Running for chickens is a kind of rushed waddle-waddle-hop, waddle-waddle-hop. They’re inefficient and awkward and goofy. They’re not going to win any races or impress any judges.

But when my chickens run, they’re usually excited (for treats), and their joy is infectious. They stretch my smile and sing to my heart. Not much makes me happier than seeing a chicken waddle-hop-run towards me.

Remembering this, I realized that it doesn’t matter if my novel is good. It can be inefficient and awkward and goofy and still make someone’s heart sing.

And poof—just like that, my block was gone.

Too often we don’t say yes to our calling because we’re afraid we won’t be good at it.

It’s not surprising. One of the biggest mistakes our culture makes is believing we have to be good to be worthy, to belong. But it isn’t true.

If you do something you love, you’ll practice it, pay attention to it, care about it. Of course you’ll get better at it.

But being good at things isn’t the point.

The point is to express your unique truth. To share the gifts that are yours to give. To spread joy by creating what you long to create.

Belonging is our birthright. We don’t belong because of anything we do. We belong because of who we already are.

So my questions to you are:

  • Whose imperfection makes your heart sing?
  • Where are you attached to an identity of being good at something?
  • What might be possible if you gave yourself permission to be awkward and goofy and messy—in all areas of your life?

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

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