In Praise of Imperfection

 

I always find beauty in things that are odd and imperfect – they are much more interesting.” Marc Jacobs

 

I had a legendary reputation for messiness in my late teens and early twenties while living in share houses. I never really kept a lot of ‘stuff’ – except for books – but I had a talent for taking what I did have and spreading it everywhere. Add to that a “just give it a rinse and it’ll be fine” attitude to the washing up, and you might be surprised that I’ve lived to tell the tale. Don’t worry, I am too.

But I took my university study very seriously. When I was doing my Masters degree full-time, I was also working part-time and, by this stage, had begun to dabble in writing. The week I handed in my thesis, Adam and I boarded a plane to move to Melbourne. A lot of things had happened in a compact time frame and it took sitting at a desk, either at home or at the Macquarie University library, for up to ten, even twelve, hours straight, to get it all done, but I did. And loved it.

But it took a few years, a complete emotional breakdown and a close shave to a second, to realise I just couldn’t operate like this anymore. I knew I had to bring together those opposite threads to the way I conducted myself and unify them in a way that made more sense and – hopefully – avoid another catastrophe. As with all major change, this was hard. But as the years passed, and the kids arrived, I became more and more comfortable with this choice. Because I’d glimpsed the alternative and it was frightening.

On the whole, I’ve mellowed – but I still have bad moments; ego manifests on occasion. ‘Why don’t you do this? Why don’t you do that?’ it asks. This used to really bother me until I learned to sit down with it and consider why those potentially damaging thoughts were bubbling to the surface and reflect on the answer. I don’t know whether that’s the result of wisdom or being able to laugh at myself. I suspect a combination of both.

When I’m experiencing doubt or jealousy, some people call it FOMO. I call it FOFU: Fear of Fucking Up. This has happened in my writing, but more – I have to say – in blogging. The reactive part of my personality, tied to sensitivity, is very real and I’ve been working hard to improve it. But guess what? The blogging world by and large feeds on this energy. Bloggers are itchy to break news and want you to have equally twitchy trigger fingers to click through on whatever story (or non-story) it is they’re breaking. The same goes for mainstream media. It’s no surprise that some people have simply given up on keeping up to date with the news, or that the ‘slow blogging’ movement has shown such a following in numbers.

So what do I mean when I’m talking about perfection? I don’t want to offend anyone who works long hours at a job they adore or actively demonstrates passion or adoration. No. There is a difference between excellence and the pursuit of ‘perfection’ and I worry that – when it comes to blogging – some people fall into the trap of getting the two confused. They worry they don’t take pretty enough photos, so they stop taking them. They can’t find the right kind of stock photograph, so they don’t write that post. Their Instagram feed is curated to the very last breath of its beautiful existence. The idea of a content marketing strategy is beguiling, but terrifying at the same time.

Does this sound familiar? Yes? You know what – I’d be lying if the same thoughts haven’t scrolled through my mind, probably visible for all to see like an enormous electronic billboard.

Here’s the thing. I’ve arrived at being okay with what I do, at the pace I do it. I’m a much happier, saner person. I do less, but what I do, I do in the quest for excellence – not perfection. Growth comes from consumption, like a great, spiritual fire from within.

So in praise of this imperfection, let me announce that I’ve officially changed the look of this blog again. I have a brand new header. If you’re reading this via the feeds, do come have a look. It’s clean, with a hint of colour, created by the team at Castle Design. My design talents can only stretch so far. I was originally planning on some great reveal post, perhaps incorporating some kind of giveaway with the fanfare. But you know, for me, for now, I’m happy just to say, “Look! Isn’t it pretty?”

Here’s to the future. x

Oh, but in the spirit of the occasion, here’s a picture of my mess. Taken at the time this post was composed. I try… but still fail at times.

Mess

karen-portrait

Karen Andrews is the creator of this website, one of the most established and well-respected parenting blogs in the country. She is also an author, award-winning writer, poet, editor and publisher at Miscellaneous Press. Her latest book is Trust the Process: 101 Tips on Writing and Creativity