“Let’s just move to Alaska. I think the moose will like me there,” I said to hubby, taking a huge bite of brownie, kicking my wedges off in the passenger seat.
He laughed and took the hand that wasn’t currently covered in chocolate crumbs. “No, no, no. Really. This conference was great for you. What did you take away from it?”
“I told you. Let’s move to Alaska and forget this whole motivation thing.”
Hubby shook his head and gave me that side-smile look he gets when he’s making fun of me in his head.
“What?” I asked, enjoying this moment away from trying to be professional and on my A-game. “I like moose.”
We’d just left my first writer’s conference.
The truth was, the conference was scary for me from moment one until the minute I closed my car door and we pulled out of the hotel parking lot two days later.
You know, I remember the same overwhelming feeling during sorority rush. I loved going through rush, but once I picked my sorority and fell into the ranks, I looked around. All around.
And suddenly, I a wave of insecurity snuck up from behind and hit me like tsunami.
I wasn’t the only homecoming queen in our sorority. I was probably the eightieth one.
I wasn’t the only straight-a student. I was probably the hundred and eightieth one.
I definitely wasn’t the coolest one. Not by a long shot. Not by a loooooooooooong shot. In fact, was I still wearing choker necklaces? Maybe. Woof.
Not the point. I digress.
Look. Insecurity is dumb. I get it. We all know it. And yet, gosh, it’s so easy to look all around at the beautiful, kind, talented people and say, “Do I measure up? Let me see, let me just get out my measuring stick…”
I had a measuring stick at the conference this weekend. I didn’t know it, but I did.
It was, “Do the agents love my writing? Do they like me? Does one of them want to sign me yet?”
This measuring stick would determine whether the conference, for me, was a success or not.
And it was entirely the wrong way to approach it.
At the conference, I was given honest, helpful, needed, and yes – painful feedback for my Asher manuscript. While the manuscript was given sincere accolades, it was also given about one million and five things to change. Kidding. Sort-of. Not really.
Plus, figuring out how to strike up conversations with strangers at a cocktail mixer was daunting. Especially while wearing business casual clothes. I prefer my pink pajama pants.
To make things even harder on myself, while I was doing all these things and taking everything in like an eager writer-sponge, I kept looking at other people:
Oh my goodness. She literally is the best small-talker ever. Oh my goodness, they’re laughing together. WHY DIDN’T I MAKE ANYONE LAUGH?
Oh my goodness. He didn’t get as many critiques as me. WHY DID I GET SO MANY?
Oh my goodness. She wants to see more of his work. WHY NOT MINE?
Commence the whole moving-to-Alaska conversation.
Afterward, I took a few days to regroup and process all the information I’d gathered, all the lessons I’d learned, all the contacts I’d made.
And what I found was that I was given a lot. I was given ways to improve Asher. (Isn’t that why I signed up for a critique in the first place?!) I developed new ideas for my current manuscript, Reagan. I accidentally met a NYT Best-selling author at the mixer who wasn’t even affiliated with the conference (my voice was too soft to order a water at the bar, so he ordered for me) – and he looked over my writing and coached me for half an hour.
Seriously. These were all awesome things.
And comparison and insecurity almost blinded me to them.
So, in short, fellow recovering perfectionists: let’s not let our own standards blind us to the gifts and opportunities right in front of us. Let’s revel in the learning curve. Let’s enjoy discovering things. Let’s be okay with not knowing everything. Let’s enjoy the process of learning and making things new, making things better, making things greater than we ever knew they could be.
Let’s experience learning as the gift that it is.
Let’s not let fear of failure bully us out of pursuing the God-gifted passions and desires of our hearts.
Let’s use His measuring stick, which is: “I love her. She’s mine. I love how I’ve made her to learn and discover my creation. I love how she trusts Me enough to persevere.”
Also, let’s maybe agree to never wear choker necklaces ever again. They’re a little tight around the neck. Unless. of course, you love them. In which case, I bet they look great on you 😉
Blessings to you,