We live in a world where filters reign supreme. A world where people take 29 selfies for every one they post. A world where no one sees the pictures that feature double chins or unfortunate hair days or the moments when everyone in the house is decidedly unhappy.
In a world like this, it’s hard to feel like a perpetual rough draft. We compare our own raw edges to everyone else’s polished masterpiece. Even if there’s one area we’re gifted in, these editable platforms tempt us to think we have to be really amazing at everything. All at once.
At some level, we suspect that everyone else doesn’t really have it all together all the time. But even so, we can’t help feeling like we don’t measure up.
A while ago I read Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Christopher Cleve. I remember liking it as a novel, but the part I can’t shake is the Author’s Note, of all places. (Yes, I read those things. And the copyright page too. Could I get any nerdier?)
Cleve explains that his book was inspired by his grandfather’s experience serving in World War II:
My grandfather died while I was writing the novel—but, as he might have remarked, it wasn’t necessarily my fault. I regret that he never saw the book. I had finished the third draft of what turned out to be five, but I had decided to wait until the novel was perfect before I gave it to him to read. What a fool I am. If you will forgive the one piece of advice a writer is qualified to give: never be afraid of showing someone you love a working draft of yourself.”
We all need people we can be our rough-draft selves with. Not that I recommend showing up as the rawest version of yourself in front of just anyone. My store clerk/bank teller/delivery guy doesn’t need to hear all my unfiltered, unprocessed ramblings. But we all need a handful of people with whom we can show up and say, “Here I am. The rough draft me.” And they can listen to us and love us and, eventually, help us become a better version of ourselves.
This is the only way I know to get unstuck.
This is the only way I know to move from a rough draft into something more beautiful.
This is the only way I know to avoid missing connection at the expense of perfection.
So here’s my challenge for you today—and for myself, too: Don’t be afraid to show someone the real you—the rough draft you.
We have to trust that our stories deserve to be told. We may discover that the better we tell our stories the better we will want to live them.Maya Angelou