Done > Perfect

Book

 

Have you read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear? I was first interested as a resource for my husband’s business. He’s an artist and I’m slowly assisting with project management, production and marketing. Slow is the key word here. I thought this book would contain nuggets of wisdom for my husband but instead, every page contains an eye-opener for me. My husband already lives a creative life with minimal fear. I’m the one stuck in the hamster wheel of fear and constantly weighing risks and rewards.

Themes of overcoming resistance and fear are not new but, Gilbert’s voice resonates. Themes can be applied to your 9-5 career, side-hustle, parenthood and self-care (fitness, crafting, cooking, whatever makes you smile).

I’ve read the section Fear in High Heels, a handful of times and wanted to share an excerpt:

“Perfectionism stops people from completing their work, yes – but even worse, it often stops people from beginning their work. Perfectionists often decide in advance that the end product is never going to be satisfactory, so they don’t even bother trying to be creative in the first place.

The most evil trick about perfectionism, though, is that it disguises itself as a virtue. In job interviews, for instance, people will sometimes advertise their perfectionism as if it’s their greatest selling point – taking pride in the very thing that is holding them back from enjoying their fullest possible engagement with creative living.

But I see it differently. I think perfectionism is just a high-end, haute couture version of fear. In think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, “I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.” … We must understand that the drive for perfectionism is a corrosive waste of time, because nothing is ever beyond criticism … at some point, you really just have to finish your work and release it as is – if only so that you can go on to make other things with a glad and determined hard. Which is the entire point. Or should be.”

For the most part, I’ve dismissed the idea of perfectionism and embraced my Type B personality characteristics. Those traits are an asset in my career, marriage, parenting-style and sanity.

I don’t apply this sound reasoning to my creative pursuits, regardless of the risk or reward. Whether I’m knitting a pair of mittens, examining a complex recipe or developing a plan for my husband’s business, I take three steps back. The, panic at the countless ways I can will fail and give up before I start.

It’s not logical, helpful or fun.

Done is greater than perfect!

Done means a warm pair of mittens, a three-tiered cake just for the hell of it.

Done is fun. Waiting around for perfect is boring as hell.

Fearing the Unknown

 

Growing up, I had a serious fear of missing out.

Here I was a little seven years old, enjoying a doughnut hole during Sunday school when our teacher introduced me and my classmates to the concept of Judgement Day. Excuse me, I thought, my little second grade heart racing. How have I been alive for seven, or eight, whole years and I haven’t heard about this…event? I had a dozen questions. My hand shot up into the air. I didn’t wait for my name to be called because my concerns were urgent. Urgent! In my little world, I was scared of being left behind in the bathroom. I was sure that come Judgement Day, I would be at the wrong place at the wrong time. My teacher thought I was being silly but my fear of missing out was real. So real, that I was kicked out of Sunday school for “causing others to panic.”

My fear of missing out only intensified over the years. I was the roommate who was always game for a late night workout, a late night popcorn break, a late night search for flights to Japan. Yes, most of my housemates were night owls and had unrealistic Spring Break expectations. I said yes to everything and in doing so, I overextended myself and filled my calendar. A decade later when my family and I moved into our first home, I listened to myself and the needs of our family and got comfortable saying no. Missing out is bound to happen. It’s a fact of life that we can’t do it all, at least not all at once.

Once I stopped overextending myself, I was left with some alone time. Why was I so afraid of being alone? Being alone is a glorious treat. Before my daughter arrived, I loved background noise. Giada’s Everyday Italian kept me company while I cleaned and cooked. Now, I love the silence of an empty house.

Fast-forward to today and I now have a fear of failure. When “older people” talked about failure, I envisioned life-altering events (or worse, a personal mistake) that lead to a lost job or failed marriage.

Now that I’m no longer checking the “20-29” box on surveys, I understand that the fear of failing isn’t about failure at all. It’s failing to not start.

My fear of failure is so real it cripples my ability to start. To start anything – a complicated recipe or a complex house project. It’s the reason I have a dusty sewing machine, a vintage doctor’s bag full of yarn and a handful of calligraphy pens. It’s the reason I’m drawn to books featuring underdogs and do-it-yourselfers. It’s the reason I’m inspired by friends – my husband included – who pursue their dreams over a well-paying job. It’s the reason I love people who chart their own course. It’s the reason I love Shark Tank and roll my eyes at people who brag about their parents’ accomplishments.

When I left my first ad agency job, my coworker gave me a really touching card with the following, edited, quote from Marianne Williamson:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I took a leap and trusted my gut when I decided to leave that job. This quote validated my decision and that little piece of paper remains tacked on my cube walls. It’s a daily reminder to be myself and remain confident (even if I have no idea what I’m doing).

To me, this year feels like a lot of baby steps in the right direction. This blog is a baby step in the right direction – to encourage consistency, practice writing and create connections. Ragnar was a series of physical and mental failures that added up to an overwhelming feeling of success.When I discovered that other women were in my boat and felt like a fraud at work, I somehow gained (a little) confidence.

Small baby steps (infant steps? crawls? scoots?) take energy. It takes a lot to put yourself out there and take that leap (or carefully calculated step) into the unknown. But, I want to be successful and happy. There, I said it! I want to feel like Kevin McCallister in Home Alone when he shouts:

“Hey, I’m not afraid any more! I said I’m not afraid any more! Do you hear me? I’m not afraid any more!”

Successful, happy and not afraid. Oh, and I also want to be cool with making mistakes while practicing calligraphy because for fucks sake – they are swirly letters!  

Dear 41-year-old me

2014: Giraffes, princesses and sparkles are all the rage. 2024: A big fat mystery.

2014: Giraffes, princesses and sparkles are all the rage. 2024: A big fat mystery.

 

Let’s get real, it was scary to type 41. I will be 41 in ten years. Glup.

Today’s Blogtober challenge is to write a letter to ourselves in ten years. I wanted to tweak this topic and write a letter to my daughter, who will be 13. But I would be listing a lot of rules and cliche nuggets of motherly wisdom. There will be plenty of time for that, little one. Plenty of time for that.

I’m comfortable with the idea of aging and entering my forties. That’s not entirely true but, I’m less comfortable with the idea of my daughter being 13. The last three years and flown by and the idea of her riding a bike without training wheels and going on a sleepover is scary and surreal. Sending her off to middle school? There’s no way that can happen within the next decade, right?

Before dinner, Ingrid, Harper (our dog) and I went on a walk around the block. It took forever. Ingrid fell down, twice. She brought along one of her “big girl coloring books” (aka, one of Dan’s old Moleskine’s notebooks) to color pictures of leaves and flowers. Ten years from now I know we won’t have these simple, slow moments. Sure, we’ll come together to celebrate family traditions but we’ll be focusing on our separate interests too. Ten years from now, I hope to remember her exactly as she is today: aims to please, has a vivid imagination, pretends to attend “Disney school” and is obsessed with princesses. She was genuinely thankful that we painted her room. She’s exhausting, hilarious and weird.

Enough about today. Let’s look ahead to 2014. I apologize in advance for the confusing use of pronouns:

Hi Lindsay,

It’s 2024 and you’re killin’ it in your 40s. 31 year old me doesn’t have any words of wisdom or lofty goals for myself in 10 years. I hope you’re loving life, having fun and have finally stopped giving a shit what other people think. Why did you waste so much of your brain power on this in your 20s? 

Let’s assume you (or I, or we?) celebrated the big four-o eating, drinking and laughing your way through New Orleans with loved ones. Great choice. Let’s also assume Ingrid is a respectful, 13 year old.  Work is going well, right? I hope you’ve welcomed another little kiddo into the family. You’re focusing on your marriage and laughing every, single day with Dan. Looks like you’ve lost those last few pounds. I knew you could do it! If you haven’t, be happy with the body you have and take care of those arthritic knees!

Here are a few lingering questions:

  • Was the last season of Mad Men everything you dreamed it would be? 
  • Do they ever make a Harry Potter prequel? 
  • Are you still paying off your student loans?  
  • Did we ever seriously address equal pay for women? Yes, finally! 
  • Remember when “butts” were all the rage in 2014?
  • When was the last time you heard the song Let it Go? A week ago? Amazing.
  • How’s everything else going? Does Hillary take the cake in 2016? Awesome.

To jog your memory, here’s what’s going on right now in your little world: You are trying your best to make things better every day, for you and your family. You’re working hard now to create the life you (or I, we?) hope to have like, now, in 2024. To focus on your dreams, to keep writing, to support Dan and his dreams. To get a piece of land up north. To wake up every morning smiling. You hope to stop acquiring so much shit and be happy with what you have. I hope you kept up with writing and started putting yourself out there. Like, scary out there. I hope you went on adventures and camped, a lot. I hope you got over your crippling fear of failure. I hope you’ve experienced gut-wrenching failure. Recoverable failure, but still gut-wrenching failure. Most importantly, I hope you’re living in the moment with the ones you love! 

Stay true to yourself, smile a lot and call your mom! 

You got this! 

#TBT Dream Jobs: Now and Then

BBGs at Wimbledon

BBGs at Wimbledon source

What was your dream job when you were a youngster?

When I was in middle school, I had serious hopes to someday be a “ball girl” (BBGs for short) for Wimbledon. Not for the U.S Open, or any of the other tennis majors. No, I pictured myself whipping balls at Pete Sampras as he went on to win his next championship. Then, in my dreams, he would credit me helping him win the title. My painful inner dialoge went something like: “Thanks to Lindsay’s quick reaction time, I was able to secure the win.” It’s an odd choice to chose a profession where success is defined by “blending into the background and get on with the job quietly.” I’m not good at being quiet. Also, there’s a lot of kneeing and sprinting involved. I just thought it would be fun to have a front-row seat and would be issued a sweet new uniform. I also assume BBGs get their first pick at the strawberries. Not good qualities when selecting a profession.

Things got serious in high school. I wanted to be a high school English teacher but quickly realized I didn’t want to teach teens literature. I just really admired our high school English teacher and gave her the title: Best Teacher Ever.

Next.

In college I was a hot mess when it came to nailing down a major. Weren’t we all jealous – or rather, annoyed – at those students who walked onto campus knowing that in four years they would graduate with X degree? I was not one of those people and went from elementary education to nothing to “maybe journalism?” to advertising.

Advertising. That’s what I’m now doing today and I love it but, it’s a far cry from a dream job.

To me, a dream job means being genuinely happy regardless of pay. My dream job is to be a writer, specifically to write children’s books.

Isn’t it funny how dreams become narrower and more realistic as we age?

I don’t dream of being a famous or popular writer, I want to wake up and write. Write about topics near and dear to my heart and somehow, someone will pay me for words on a page.

Think: Colin Firth’s character in Love Actually: rustic cabin, cable-knit sweaters, impractical typewriters and never-ending cups of tea (or in my case, coffee).

We often get in the way of our own dreams. I’m a learner and a planner. I like to read about writing – or calligraphy or yoga or house projects or cooking – or any of my interests. Plans are made on how to best incorporate these passions into my schedule. Then, that’s where I like to stop.

I’m trying to stop stopping.

This challenge – to blog or write every single day – is an example of moving out of my comfort zone and into the zone of potential failure (what I like to avoid!). Like the BBGs, I have to get in a few hours, days, weeks (months or years) of practice before I can step onto the main court.

We’d love to hear from you! Silly, serious or just plain odd – what was your dream job when you were little? What is it today? 

What is It Worth to You?

Not sure why this image felt appropriate, but it did. The three of us taking a much-needed snooze, the first christmas we all shared together.

Not sure why this image felt appropriate, but it did. The three of us taking a much-needed snooze, the first christmas we all shared together.

I asked myself this question, this morning as we pulled away from my parent’s driveway. I was getting anxious because for the first week in seven, I was coming right up to the edge of the time I had available in order to hit my weekly word count for the book I’m working on and I needed about 2700 words in one day and I wasn’t sure I could do it.

Spoiler alert:  I didn’t hit it.

My husband reassured me that I could do it on our five-hour car ride back to Milwaukee. It was his turn to drive, so I had nothing but time…and a toddler in the backseat who sometimes requires a lot of attention. But still, I could make a decent dent in it, for sure. All I needed was something to write on. I had multiple devices – so that wasn’t an issue.

And then I started writing and I had this pit in my stomach. The pit that tells me I’ve gone the wrong way. I’ve missed something. I stopped. I thought about the story that I was writing so far. It felt close. But I wasn’t passionate about it. Why was that?

Because it wasn’t the right story.

But I’d been working on it for seven weeks, I told myself. Surely, I could keep writing in the same direction and then edit it and turn it into something better. But this didn’t feel like a case of “your first draft is shit-tosis” it felt like I was actually writing the wrong story. If I kept writing the wrong story, surely, I’d just be miserable the rest of the way. [And quit calling me Shirley!]

So I started a new document and started outlining the story in my head. I stopped. I thought things over. I continued. I added details to this part here and details to that part there. A few small revelations hit me and it seemed like it was making sense.  I think it makes sense. It could still be the worst idea I’ve ever had and there is still so much I don’t know. I thought I knew when it took place. Now, not so sure. I thought I knew who the good guys were and who the bad guys were. Now, it’s kind of unclear – mostly because I haven’t figured it out that far, yet.

And at the end of our five-hour car ride, I had put down about 900 words into an outline and captured some possible plot points. I don’t count outlines/research toward my word count, so today my official count was 148.

I failed, by a lot.

Adding insult to injury

And then there’s this voice in my head that I believe is only going to get louder and louder as I continue on. It’s the voice of “resistance” as is labeled in the book, “The War of Art.” The voice that says the following:

You mean to tell me you’ve been writing for seven weeks and you think you need to start over? Well you’re screwed. Might as well give up.

You’re never going to hit the goals you set. This is going to take years. Are you prepared for that?

This is stressful. You’ve got a lot going on at work, your fitness and health are taking a backseat, you hardly blog on HBD, and you know you want to finish Game of Thrones as soon as possible. Just let it rest for a while.

This feels too hard. Are you sure it should be this hard? I bet if you were ACTUALLY supposed to write a book, it wouldn’t feel this hard, it would come more naturally to you.

Don’t quit your day job. Literally.

That voice hits me at my core. It feeds on all my insecurities of being a hack. It’s only a matter of time before they find out that you’re not really a writer.

Don’t let the resistance win. Name it. Kill it. And pick yourself up by your GOD DAMN bootstraps and move on.

Week 8…or Week 1 as I like to think of it

So yes, I’m starting again. There may be pieces that I can salvage from the past seven weeks. There may not be much. I’m not changing my goals or my timelines or anything else. I just need to focus, put pen to paper and make the resistance bleed.

It’s a war out there. But in the end you have to ask yourself…

What is it worth to you?

For me, it’s worth enough to start over and keep trying until I get it right.

5 Steps to Tackle Your Next Big Child-Rearing Challenge

Child-Rearing rears it's ugly head

“Some day they’ll figure out what they’re doing, little cuz…some day.”

Raising a child is fraught with many, many challenges. Some are big, some are small, but one common trait runs through all of them. They are all challenges that you HAVE to face. Not just challenges like, “Hey that looks fun, let’s go try that.” No, more like, “Our kid can’t eat table food without gagging and puking. What do we do?” or “This weird rash is not going away and I have no clue what’s causing it and no clue how to treat it. What do we do?” Okay, so those were more specific to my family, and some of the weird, unexpected things that we encountered. But a lot of parenting is just that – unexpected things you encounter.

Most of the advice you’ll get from friends/family/online forums is “Here’s what works for 85% of kids,” which may be fine for the majority of your child-rearing challenges. But at some point you will find yourself in an area (or many, in our case) where your kid is in the 15% and then you’re left wondering what you need to do.

So given that we’ve experienced our fair share of child-rearing challenges in just the two short years we’ve managed to keep our child alive (yay us!), I thought I’d share some helpful insight that might be useful for your next child-rearing challenge.  I’d say this system is 85% accurate. Take it with a grain of salt.

Step 1 –“Fake it till you make it”: Read one blog post about the particular topic, assume it’s going to be a breeze and that everything you’ve heard from others will not apply to you. Because your child is perfect and a genius and would never not do as instructed.

 Step 2 – Get pissed that this is not one of those times where you can “Fake it till you make it”: Spend a few weeks lamenting how you should have listened to your friends/family. Then, berate yourself for being a terrible parent who can’t raise a child as perfect and special as little Suzy down the street who mastered this specific task in about 3 hours.

Step 3 – Have a good cry: Pour a big glass of wine, forgive yourself for any wrong doing and move forward. Also important — forgive your kiddo who now refers to you as “Meany butt”… even though you both know it was an honest reflection of your current state.

Step 4 – Keep getting up after you fall down: Accept any help you can get, read more than one blog post on the subject and do not act like a know-it-all. Most importantly, be okay with the many (so many) mistakes that will happen along the way, all in the name of learning and improving and finally getting it right.

Step 5 – Get off your high horse (I mean it!): After all is right with the world and you have mastered the latest child-rearing challenge, do NOT be that parent that proclaims the one true way. Realize that your way was not what worked for others who tackled this before you, so don’t expect to be the one singular expert on navigating this tricky child-rearing challenge for those tackling it after you. If a friend seeks help, always be gracious and always preface your advice with, “Here’s what worked for me, but I know that other methods have worked for others, so take that with a grain of salt.” And then also point them to some helpful resources if you think of any.

I’m not just setting out this advice for you … selfishly it also serves as a reminder for me. It reminds me that things always get bad before they get better and that it’s important to stay the course and keep trying. So to show you I mean business, here’s how I’d like to apply it.

The next big child-rearing challenge: Potty Training

The plan of attack: I’ll skip right to number 3 because these things should always start with a big glass of wine and some acceptance for the challenges that lie ahead.“I’m learning. He’s learning. We’ll get through this. It will be messy. I will probably cry at some point. He will definitely cry at some point. Hubby will keep us on track. We will all be supportive and accepting of what may come.” And I’ll keep repeating that at every failure along the way.

The journey: We haven’t actually started yet, so I’m just now researching the many ways in which one could potty train their little one. Having said that, if you have any advice, I’d love to hear it. I’ll then let you know whether or not your advice was a load of crap (pun intended) or if it actually worked for my little one.

At some point I’ll check in and let you know how it went, most likely after we get through it as I probably won’t be in a good mind set when things get dirty (another pun intended).

Until then, keep your chin up. You’ll get through it.

The Best Interview Advice

Dorm front-desk worker: the first of many jobs scored by following this advice. There were vacuums to rent and frozen pizzas to heat - and I could work in my sweatpants. Dream job!

Dorm front-desk assistant: the first of many jobs scored by following this advice. There were vacuums to rent and frozen pizzas to heat and I could work in my sweatpants. Dream job!

 

When I registered for my first semester of college, I was certain that I’d graduate with an education degree and would be a high school English teacher. I know what you’re thinking, “But Lindsay, your sentence structure is wackadoodle.” You’re right, read on.

As I sat in my first class, surrounded by prospective educators, nothing felt right. My classmates would chime in during discussions and I often shook my head in disagreement, only to find I was the odd man out. Not only did I not belong but, I wasn’t passionate about the profession, only the subject matter.

A year later, I stumbled upon my first marketing class taught by Chuck Tomkovick. This man had energy, he commanded a room and had a sincere passion for helping students. Simply put, he was the best professor ever in the history of professors.

Chuck offered advice on how to ace interviews. All you need to do is make the interviewer think, “I gotta get me some more (fill in your name here).” Sometimes people laughed this off. But, years later when I switched gears into the land of advertising, this advice helped me to get past the initial interview. This mantra helped me to frame my answers and more importantly, helped me to stop rambling. To me, “I gotta get me some more Lindsay.” meant that I needed to:

  • Be myself
  • Be engaging
  • Be memorable

I’m not insanely smart or articulate. I’m a hard worker, a team player and really love to learn. So are a lot of people.
I like to do a good job and prefer to meet deadlines. So do a lot of people.

So, how to set myself  apart? I learned how to tell a good story and I stopped trying to be Perfect Lindsay. As soon as I stopped pretending to be someone I’m not, people started to perk up. I am honest about my experience and industry knowledge. I am sure to smile and crack a joke if one pops into my head. I dress like a fancier version of myself but, make sure that I’m comfortable. I ask questions and show enthusiasm (but not too much enthusiasm).

Sure, we all research the company, have our set of questions in-hand and send thank you letters. But, isn’t it liberating to think that by tucking in this little nugget of advice and acting like yourself you can get to the next step. One step closer to landing a great job.

This advice helped me tremendously. What about you? What’s the best interview advice you’ve ever received? What about the worst?

Acceptance is the first step in order to fall in love with your passions

 

How do you respond to the request “Tell me a little about yourself.”?

Typically, I launch into a 30 second elevator pitch – checking off accomplishments and current status. Went to school (insert school), work in (insert industry), which means (explain industry/company/role) and I live (city/neighborhood) with (self/people/family). Blah.

Last week at a work dinner, I was asked to “Tell my story.” As I launched into my typically story – bullet points about my past – I was interrupted and asked a series of follow-up questions. Many, many follow-up questions. It was a great way to get a few laughs at the dinner table and a memorable way to get to know someone deeper. Sure, I played tennis in school, but he wanted to know if I enjoyed it now. Throughout this line of questioning, he correctly deciphered that I enjoy running and loved cooking shows. It was a great way to get to get the answer: “What do you do outside of work? What are your hobbies?”

A hobby is an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for fun. I’ve dipped my toe into various hobbies but rarely do I dive in and give it my all. I rarely experience the reward in learning a new skill. I have a dusty sewing machine, almost-new knitting needles, half-assed attempts at calligraphy and boxing gloves. I’m not even certain how the boxing gloves made it into my closet.

The point is, we’ve all latched onto some craze or felt a surge of energy when trying something new. I enjoy learning about new subjects. I’ve checked out sewing books from the library and signed up for online calligraphy classes with little to show for the investment in time and money. It’s frustrating and annoying. Why do I bother to explore hobbies when the majority of them fail? Isn’t this supposed to be fun? Why am I stressing out about my calligraphy form? I’m sure someone could analyze the reasons why but I’ll take a stab in the dark and assume it’s because I think it’s easier. Easier to not try verses try and fail.

It’s easier…but not fun. Or fulfilling. Over the past year, I’ve experienced personal success with running. It took me months to even call myself “a runner.” It took me even longer to realize how much I truly love the sport. With every new investment – running shoes, race fees, clothing – I questioned my intentions and commitment level. Would this be “worth it” in the end? Ultimately, I experienced some level of “mom-guilt.” Everyone (EVERYONE) tells you to take time for yourself but, is this too much time? Too much focus on my needs and wants? Regardless of someone’s definition of “too much,” I fell in love with running and now consider it to not only be one of  my hobbies but, one of my passions.

Rather than skim the surface of my loves: running, yoga, writing…what would happen if I took a leap to really give it my all? The risk of failure is greater but the reward is sweeter (Jamie hits this point in another post). Ragnar gave me a taste into the pay-off of training. Now what?

In order to keep myself accountable, I joined my gym’s yoga/running program. Our class instructor sends out a weekly running schedule and healthy recipe. Each Saturday morning we get together for a group yoga class and go on a run. I was hesitant to sign up for this program because of the investment. It’s not expensive but, am I willing to wake up early every Saturday in order to run? Am I willing to make up these runs even if I’m out of town?

My goal is to continue running on a regular basis – regardless of race schedule. Plain and simple.This program combines my three fitness “loves” – running, weight training and yoga into one. How could I resist?

Getting “into” something takes guts and can sometimes be read as selfish. Who cares what others think. Just go for it and take the shot.

GIRLS: How being a hot mess can lead to amazing things

 

HBD9 HBD7 HBD8

 

Can I be candid for a minute?

Don’t answer that. This is my blog post and I’ll say whatever I want!

I gushingly love the HBO show, GIRLS (and yes, I’m making “gushingly” a word). And it’s not just because I think its great entertainment. There are life lessons in there, too. I swear! Just hear me out.

What is this pile of…fertilizer?

My husband gives me a lot of crap for how much I like the show, GIRLS. I’ll admit, at first I was a little uncomfortable with the show. When you really break it down, it’s a show made up of a bunch of flailing, inept girls living off their parents’ money in Brooklyn, acting out every stereotype of East Coast girls I’ve ever encountered.

As much as I despise most of the characters, I don’t like to see them fail. But I also don’t like to see middle-aged parents that work hard getting taken advantage of by their whiny kids.

Keep that in mind when you come into your formidable years, little one.

But I kept watching for two reasons. 1) I wanted to see what stupid issues they’d come up with next and it was a train wreck that I couldn’t look away from.2) Well, let’s just say it made me feel safe and secure knowing that my life was MUCH more put together than theirs (sarcasm intended).

Seedlings rising up from a pile of…fertilizer

After a couple episodes of tolerating the characters and finding mild amusement, a funny thing started to happen. I actually started to empathize with their situations. Yes, they all look like a hot mess…but underneath it all, weren’t they just trying to figure out how to make a life for themselves?

Could I really judge them for all the times where they fell down and staggered back up to their feet? I couldn’t. Because I realized that I was witnessing them in the stage of their life where they were sorting out their shit.

And the show is still like that. Week after work, they’re sorting out their shit. They take one step forward and, seemingly, three steps back. They haven’t reached their happily ever after yet. And I love it. I love seeing their struggle because it feels so human to me. I love seeing their average, screwed up lives, and their really stupid mistakes, all in the name of learning what works for them.

We are all the pot and we are all the kettle

This isn’t just a post to tell you about other people being a hot mess. Obviously, I too was once in my twenties and I had plenty of my own hot mess moments.

And let’s be honest, I’m still just one incident away from being a hot mess, at any given time.

I have been floundering. I have been rude to people. I have had a huge ego and thought I had all the right answers only to be proved by higher ups that I, indeed, did not have all the right answers (or at least, the answers they were looking for).

I have made poor investments, both in money and in time. I have had ideas that I gave up on way too early. I have had ideas that I kept holding onto even when I knew in my heart it wasn’t the right path. I have struggled. Maybe not in the same way these girls have. And maybe at less of an expense to my parents (I hope). But I have struggled. We all have.

Is it worth it to fail nine times in order to succeed once?

“When I was young, I observed that nine out of ten things I did were failures. So I did ten times more work.” –George Bernard Shaw

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about motivational quotes that show that the path to success is through a lot of failure. And if we’re talking about GIRLS, there is indeed a lot of failure going on. I won’t spoil anything but you start to see the glimmers of success towards the end of season three. And mathematically speaking, that makes sense.

A large part of me thinks, “Good for them!” They are taking risks. They are willing to fail in order to keep working towards their dream. They are groveling if it means getting back on the right path.

And then another part of me thinks, “That’s not fair!” Because I see that while they may appear to be a hot mess, they’re taking strides past where I am in my own professional and personal growth. And it feels like I’m being penalized for making safer choices and compromising, at times.

I know it’s my own fear of failure that’s holding me back, which is obviously something these characters lack. But there it is: I’m not a risk taker. I fear failure so greatly that I’m willing to never try. I’ve never said, “I’m going to take this dream job that pays a fraction of what I make now in order to get myself on a much more fulfilling path.” No.

My mission statement so far has been, “I’m going to carry my weight for my family. I’m not going to jeopardize the life that we’ve built. Seeking my passion is selfish if it means putting others in harm’s way (emotionally or financially).”

That’s where the characters on GIRLS have me beat. They’re at a luxurious time in their lives when they can make mistakes and fail, and the only ones that feel it are them.

They’re not tied to a mortgage. They’re not key providers helping to support a family. If they get fired, they can go sling lattes at Grumpy’s and make enough to cover rent until they can find a job that puts them back on their feet.

I don’t have the luxury of taking chances like that.

Embracing your hot messness (also making that a word)

Now when I watch GIRLS, I have a new appreciation for what is being portrayed through these characters. Sometimes, their mistakes feel all too real. Sometimes, they make the mistakes that even I was too scared to make back then. Either way, I still get to witness them living out this crazy stage in their life, which of course should be labeled, the “hot mess” stage. And just like all of us, they’ll look back and remember their 20s as a blurry, scary, screwed-up place. But really, it was all necessary to make them into the amazing people they will be…about ten years from now.

So this begs the questions: Did you fully lean into your hot mess years in order to get where you are now? Or, are you currently living in the hot mess stage…wondering when it will get better? I’d love to hear your horror stories and your success stories. And I’ll share one of mine soon. I promise!

Whatever stage of life you’re currently at, just remember that taking risks and being a hot mess for a short amount of time could lead to some REALLY big things down the road. I think it’s time we all stepped up our hot mess game in order to make some strides in our own lives.

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I guess when you're 34 an ideal morning is getting up early, working out, brewing coffee and looking at the tree. Let's get wild, Friday.

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