When To Show Up Imperfectly

I had a deadline to share a draft with a mentor last week. Unfortunately, inspiration didn’t hit until two days before the deadline, not enough time to complete the draft.  

I want my writing to be polished enough to show who I am (better said, to reveal just enough of myself). I want to be proud of reaching my own internal standards, and even better, going beyond them. It’s uncomfortable to share raw, incomplete writing.   But I was out of time.

I cringed to share my draft before I’d had a chance to remove any potentially awkward or embarrassing passages. I debated whether to share the progress at all, or wait until it was more suitable.  

Ultimately, I sent it with multiple disclaimers. It was in-progress, rough, etc.  

As my mentor and I reviewed it together, I noticed that being seen in my incomplete-ness actually had some benefits. It helped to:

  • Identify the core threads without having to write hundreds of words to find them.
  • Receive big-picture feedback to help shape the draft and give clarity on next steps.
  • Work together on something incomplete, knowing that it didn’t have to be perfect.
  • Trust and surrender control of my writing process.
  • See where I was complicating things.

It’s freeing being brave for a moment of imperfection.  

Are you holding onto something that might be helpful to take an imperfect step towards?  

Here are some questions to help discern when it makes sense to show up imperfectly.

  1. How does it feel in your body?
    The sensations you feel can give you clues on the truth and what’s best.
  2. Is it a baby step to build the muscle or the scariest thing ever?
    It may be uncomfortable, but if it feels like the scariest thing ever, you may want to reconsider your choices or seek support.
  3. What context will it happen in, and with whom?
    While authenticity is important, it may not be appropriate to submit an incomplete draft for a professional deadline.
  4. Where is the pressure to be perfect coming from?
    Notice if this is internalized from past experience or a valuable consideration for the current situation.
  5. Can a growth mindset release the pressure valve?
    Seeing your experiences as learning experiences can curtail your inner critic and help you feel better about opportunities for growth.

Consider your unique situation and consult your inner wisdom. As I did, you might find yourself pleasantly appreciating the results from taking small risks.