I have spent the past few weeks writing half blog posts. I’ve scribbled them on the back of receipts, in tiny notebooks and big notebooks. I’ve made lists of post ideas and articles to link to. I’ve written entire paragraphs in my head in the shower. I even sat on a train and spoke into the voice-to-text tool on my phone. And yet all I’ve shared with you is an (admittedly awesome) Liz Lemon gif.
In note-form I have lots to share with you about: Lean In, Girls, those horrible slut-shaming NYC posters, that horrendous New York Magazine article about “feminist housewives” that managed to offend and misquote everyone (except Rush Limbaugh), how many freaking times women cops get almost sexually assaulted in Law & Order/NCIS style shows, and Hanna Rosin pretending it’s a new idea to say we don’t need feminism anymore. (Hint: People have been forever.) And don’t even get me started on the new Pope. Yet I refrain from hitting that damn publish button because there’s always more polishing to do.
I have a really bad habit of starting something with enthusiasm, and abandoning it when it gets hard, or boring, when some new project comes along, or there’s a marathon of [redacted for embarrassment] on TV. My bookshelves are littered with books, and I’ve read the first few chapters of a lot of them. I’ve read the last chapter of very few. This very post? I abandoned it to go work on another half-finished essay, that I have since abandoned in frustration. And whatever, we’re all flawed. This is a roundabout confession that I’m a classic perfectionist, who leaves a lot of things unfinished because they are not [fill in the blank] enough yet.
Like this blog.
The problem is part laziness (Reality tv has a way of sucking you in, people!), but a bigger part of the problem, I think, is an unwillingness to trust that what I have to say is good enough/important enough/strong enough. In truth, there is always more that can be done. I could write a whole book called Lean In: The Fallout*.But what good are those ideas doing, hidden in a notebook?
All of this is confessional, but I also think it speaks to the various ways I have responded to the social pressure women often face to “play nice” and “make everyone happy/like me.” If I scrutinize my own word choices enough, then I will settle on the perfect combination: I will convince everyone that I am right (and therefore good/valuable) and escape all scrutiny or criticism (which, if I were to receive, means I am bad/less valuable). Which all adds up to: silence.
This is silly, at best, and suffocating at worst. I wrote a while ago about the power of awkwardness, and at the time I was thinking of intentional awkwardness; those moments where you chose to make someone ever so slightly uncomfortable to prove a point. But lately I think that vocally attempting to affect change, in which you risk pissing people off, saying something stupid, or a combination of the two, is a different—equally powerful—kind of awkwardness. So at the risk of sounding self-helpy, is there something you’re holding back, because you think it needs more polishing? Because you’re afraid of pissing people off? How have you overcome the pressures to be nice and/or perfect?
In the meantime, I’ve got some imperfect blog posts to share.