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I learned a startling truth recently. I suppose it’s obvious. Maybe I’m just naïve or unobservant because I’m so shocked by it.
Your first book [blog, website, product, etc.] won’t be your best work.
Now that I’m saying it again, I feel silly for not thinking of it before. Of course this won’t be my best work. As you work harder, you improve and grow.
But this truth paralyzes me.
If my first work won’t be my best, why even write a first book? Can’t I just skip to books three and four where I’ve grown a following of avid fans who hang on my every thought? Can’t my first book be life-changing and amazing? Do I really have to go through the rough part of not being the best?
This is especially hard for me. I’ve only been freed from the judgments of schooling for a year. I’m accustomed to instant feedback on a scale from just passing to complete perfection.
Traditional schooling teaches us to react to feedback. If you make A’s, keep doing what you’ve been doing. If you make C’s, work harder. But once you’re in the real world, that instant feedback ebbs and flows.
Every once in a while, I’ll tell someone I graduated high school as valedictorian. Sometimes they’ll say something about how their graduating class boasted 12 valedictorians, probably in a faint effort to knock me off my high horse. And I’ll nod and agree that my class too had multiple valedictorians. But I, I was the number one valedictorian. I was the best.
I care a lot about being the –est. It’d be dishonest to say any of us don’t prefer to be the est of something. The smartest, the prettiest, the sweetest, the funniest, the shortest, the longest hair, the smallest hands (I always win that one), the earliest riser, the cutest suitcase.
It doesn’t matter what they say as long as it’s est. I’d probably even settle for the worst.
So how will my book turn out? What will I be then?
A better writer? A smarter person? A more well known writer?
As much as we’d like to jump in feet first and be the best, life doesn’t work that way. I won’t receive a 100 on my thoughts and this won’t bump my GPA.
But I can grow, slowly. I can improve.
During my freshman year of college, a man came and spoke to my business class. He talked about how during your twenties, you should try out everything you enjoy. And in your thirties, you should narrow it down. Then once you’re in your forties and fifties, become an expert at that one thing.
At the time, I thought he was crazy. So I’ll be an “expert” at my job in 30 years? I can barely sit still for 30 minutes let alone work for 30 years.
But he’s right. Life takes time.
Right now, while I’m in my twenties, I’m trying lots of new things. I may not be great at them, and I’m certainly not the best, but I’m trying.
That’s the most important. Regardless of the fact that this will not be my best blog or best book or best documentary, it will be a lesson. Even though this won’t be my best work, it needs to be written.