I’m posting some of the letters I’ve written this summer here. I didn’t update the content at all (so maybe like when I say 72 hours, I mean this weird synchronicity that happened in June), but it’s relevant to my work and hey, if you’re just now seeing it, well, welcome! The invitation to connect is always open. xoM
I’ve been spending hours on this trip wondering why why why I do all the things wrong wrong wrong.
Why can’t I do X to make Y happen? Why haven’t I figured out how to fit all the things into the day? Why did I say I’d hit send on this note to you, sweet reader, and then let it sit as a draft on my desktop until today?
And it’s not just me. It’s come up in at least 4 conversations I’ve had in the last 72 hours. So maybe you’ve been gnawing on it too. Maybe you’re playing around with the Exercise and wondering whether you’re “doing it right” if you’re not hearing the answers you need.
I want to hug everyone of you because I hear you. I see you. I’m struggling the same way, and—as is my custom—I’ve been inspecting every “flaw.” Super close up, like Harriet the Spy with a magnifying glass.
And you know what? You know what else a magnifying glass does when you’re looking at something real close up? It completely distorts the thing (and maybe fries the thing like an ant on the sidewalk). So, I want to share a secret.
IT WAS ALL MADE UP. And I’m the one who made it up.
These flaws are all pretend, and the magnifying glass made it super clear they weren’t just NOT perfect, they weren’t even me. They were not-me things. And all the not-me things, well, they were the results of other people’s actions. The thing I wanted to be good at was “perfect” when someone else did it, because they did it. The thing I wanted to have was perfect, because of what someone else did to make it.
They were all perfect for someone else—but that someone wasn’t me. My vision of what “doing it right” is was making me miserable, because it wasn’t my“doing it right” that made it exist that way.
Want to know the bonus secret? The not-me things are super powers.
Everyone of them is an opportunity to uncover what is me. It’s an opportunity to do my best and do the next best thing for me.
So maybe that thing you can’t make look right, the empty (or too full) calendar? Maybe it’s made up to. Maybe it’s a thing you need a magnifying glass to see, because it’s a not-you thing.
All those people over the last 72 hours? The people I work with, the people I love, people I’ve never met until I hopped in their Lyft—they’re all worried about what IS and what should BE. Stressed and twisted in uncomfortable brain positions, we’re all worried that we’re not doing it right, whatever it is—even when it’s something we’ve never done before.
Jessica Snow (who writes a really good newsletter), closed a recent on with Alain de Botton’s thoughts along this vein—so I’m going to pass it along:
“What I want to argue for is not that we should give up on our ideas of success, but that we should make sure that they are our own. We should focus in on our ideas and make sure that we own them, that we're truly the authors of our own ambitions. Because it's bad enough not getting what you want, but it's even worse to have an idea of what it is you want and find out at the end of the journey that it isn't, in fact, what you wanted all along.”
No one is saying you can’t make the thing look right, or fill/clear that calendar, but as they say, be yourself because everyone else is already taken.
What imperfections are you gnawing on? What do you put under the magnifying glass?
Try asking yourself what is you and what the next best thing for you is when you do the Exercise. Take a few deep breaths and let me know how it goes!