I haven’t written a blog post for myself in months. I write constantly at work and do some freelance writing besides. I’ve probably written over 15,000 words already this year. Maybe more, but none just for me.
I’ve struggled to write for myself because I’m trying to raise my standards. I don’t like feeling like what I’m writing could be phrased better, or told in a more interesting way, or have more useful lessons. I don’t like writing anything less than awesome.
It’s created a huge roadblock, where I start writing and stop. I think I have the kernel of a great idea, something that people will relate to and love, and then it all just turns into a garbled mess, with no real point, no message that matters, nothing of value.
It’s become paralyzing. I wake up feeling uninspired. I go to bed wishing that the next morning will be different, that I’ll wake up with a burst of energy and feel motivated to write something incredible. But I never do.
One lazy morning leads to the next. I fail to write something of value day after day.
I often wonder if it’s a feeling others can relate to.
Sometimes I feel like everyone is going through a version of the same problem. Struggling to do something great, or better, or at least different, but failing. Other days I feel completely alone.
The frustration gets worse as I continue to struggle to find a solution. People want solutions. Great writing makes solutions obvious. It hits you over the head with something that was staring you in the face the entire time, yet for some reason you couldn’t see.
But how am I supposed to write something awesome about a solution I have yet to find?
Novelist Kurt Vonnegut said, “When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.” That’s how I feel these days.
It’s funny how our desire to be great can make us fucking useless.
I’m left feeling like other writers have read more books, done more research, already solved the problems I want to solve, and put those solutions in books they wrote better than I ever could.
It’s snapped my confidence in half. Desperation has crept in and there’s nothing good about desperate writing.
Ordinarily this is where I’d leave some solutions. Focus on the work, not the outcome. Fake confidence until you become confident. Just keep writing. Quit competing and comparing.
The internet is full of articles on what to do. It’s full of solutions that I’ve spent a lot of time reading.
Yet none of them seem to matter. In the end, you have to solve it for yourself. That’s what they never say.
They say I did it, so can you. Just do this and this and this, and you’ll win everything. Just hustle. Just follow the best practices. Wake up earlier. Follow the success blueprint. Go step by step and you’ll be rich and happy and successful.
Yet for most everyone that’s not how life works. Maybe for a few. Some tiny percentage. But not most people.
Most people are left struggling to make ends meet, to be happier and more fulfilled, to be healthier and wealthier and wiser. They’re left wondering if it’s all their fault.
I sometimes wonder if I didn’t care so much about being great, if I’d be better. Maybe.
More than anything I wonder if it’s worth it.
I could be 100% content right now. Life is great by almost any measure. I’m happily married to a woman I love. I have a job I enjoy working with coworkers and a boss I quite like. I’m in close to the best shape of my life. I’m making strides toward a better future.
Yet, day in and day out I’m struck with this paralyzing feeling that I could do more, that I could push myself harder to be better, and most of all, that I may never be great.
It clouds my thinking. It garbles up my good ideas and turns them to mush. It makes me feel oddly helpless and far less happy than I know I should be.
I want to believe that I can be content and ambitious at the same time. That if I read enough articles and books and work hard enough in the next while, that I’ll become great. That one day everything will click and I’ll just be awesome.
But maybe I’ll spend my whole life struggling to reach a place that doesn’t exist. Is that how people spend their lives?
I’m really not sure. The cynic inside me says that very few lead happy and fulfilling lives. The optimist tells me I’m wrong and convinces me that I’m projecting.
Either way, I’m determined to make progress.
I think that will probably involve giving up my obsession with perfection and greatness. That much is obvious. It will likely entail giving myself more credit, appreciating the present a little more, and setting more realistic goals and expectations. Being more consistent in everything I do will also help. Focusing on execution.
Like I said, I don’t really have it figured out. I can’t shake the feeling I could be great, if only I did this thing and that thing. Maybe it’ll all come together. Maybe it never will.
But with all that uncertainty, perhaps my happiness shouldn’t depend on it.