I went for a barefoot walk yesterday. It forced me to be more aware. I noticed the old, roughened sidewalk outside our home, the broken gravelly walk beside the Missouri Synod church, the fresh new sidewalk a few blocks away. I imagined the prickly dry grasses, the packed full gravel of alleys. I began to notice other things too, with my senses so heightened. The fresh pine scent of a new fence around a corner house. The rocky shadows as clouds gathered around Pikes Peak. The way my legs itched to walk and walk and walk, muscles begging for exercise.
I pondered too, while I walked. In some smooth sequence of thoughts which I have now forgotten, my mind moved from the sidewalk textures to my aversion to review.
I’m not a perfectionist, but I am very success oriented. I’m wired to read social environments, to understand what other people value, and to try to be that as well as I can. It’s a comparison trap but one that’s always changing. If introspection and writing are what’s valued,I want to be the most introspective writer. If outdoor skills are in, I want to be the one acquainted with the most trails, the girl who makes her own granola for hiking snacks. If I don’t think I can do something well or impress a group on the first go around, I don’t usually try.
I hate to be told “That’s good, but you can do better.” All my rough drafts have to also be final edits. My first thoughts on a new topic must be airtight considerations.
I once heard that reading your writing out loud is the best way to catch errors in flow and grammar. It’s true. I hate it; or at least I used to. Now I’m slowly learning the power of double checking.
I view and read each of my blog posts as a preview before I publish them. I don’t catch everything but I do find a few improvements, errors, better ways to express myself. It’s still a challenge; I’m still a stubborn people-pleaser sometimes. But I’m learning. I’m learning how to practice, to let myself grow into skill instead of hiding anything that’s not immediately perfect. Mediocre is not always an insult; sometimes it’s a phase in between poor and excellent. Good work takes several practice rounds, multiple drafts. A series of photographs may reveal only one keeper. That is good. That is growth.
So, here’s to the in-betweeners, the ones who are practicing, who aren’t giving up even though they aren’t there yet. Tell me, what are you practicing?