Is it ever ok to just ‘show up’?

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A little while ago a clever friend of mine who has a correspondingly clever blog got called out on said blog for ‘just showing up’. A reader felt that her post that day wasn’t up to her usual standard and wondered whether she should have bothered at all.

Since that day I have pondered the concept of ‘showing up’ and whether it is ever ok to put anything but your very best work out into the wild. This week and last, I myself have been in the position where I know I am not doing my best work and I have wondered if I should just make my excuses and take a little hiatus.

I am sure people would understand if I explained that I am pregnant and thanks to my previous four pregnancies ending in miscarriage, I am a bit of a basket case. The last two weeks have been a dead set roller coaster but happily a 7 week scan last Friday revealed that, for now anyway, everything is ‘perfect’. The foetus is the right size, in the right place and has a little heartbeat. Nice.

But I am still hugely anxious about this pregnancy, second-guessing every little ‘weird’ signal that my body is giving me. Adding to this anxiety is the fact that my little one has been complaining randomly of pains in his legs and knees and yesterday I had to take him for a blood test to rule out anything sinister. The prospect of taking a three year old for a blood test meant the whole day was a complete write off but happily, J was an absolute champ and the blood test took all of 15 seconds. The next couple of days stretch interminably ahead though till we get the results. The chances of it being anything sinister are slim, but till that all clear comes through, I can think of little else.

As you can imagine, all this anxiety makes it very hard to concentrate on anything but my writing mojo in particular has deserted me. I know a lot of people would say here ‘for god’s sake woman, be kind to yourself, have a little break’. But really, I can’t. There is work that needs to be done, so I am going to do it. And I am going to have to live with the fact that while it’s not my very best work, it’s still ok.

With that in mind, I believe I have come up with the answer to ‘is it ever ok to just show up’ and that answer is ‘yes’.

Why?

Because the more consistent you are, the more you keep showing up, the smaller the gap between your very best and your very average work will become.

That’s what I am telling myself anyway :)

How do you deal with the anxious times – are you able to push through and just get the job done? Or do you feel it’s not worth doing anything less than your best?


Comments

  1. says

    Congratulations! And yes, I agree, you’ve got to show up and do the work. That’s what drafts are for. Take care. x

  2. says

    I agree Kelly. I think we learn most from the hardest days and the days where we just have to ‘show up’. As for you, take care, thinking of you and your little family x

  3. Perth Karen says

    Oh yes – definitely keep showing up and give it your best for that day, that’s all I’d expect of anyone. To me an 80% contribution is better than no contribution. Best wishes Kelly – thanks too for your post.

  4. says

    Absolutely ~ consistency over perfection, I love that idea!

    And a big congratulations! And wishing you all the best Kelly!

  5. says

    ‘Best’ is a relative term, Kelly!

    You might think it’s not your best work ever, but I’d bet my ADSL connection that it’s the best work you can do *right now* in this season of your life.

    Which makes it your best. Okay? Good ;-)

  6. says

    Congratulations! All the best for the pregnancy. x

    I think it’s okay as well. And in many cases, you can rest assured that your ‘average’ is as good if not better than other people’s ‘best’. I think it’s all about training yourself to push through. And taking a break and coming back with fresh eyes before you decide something is finished.

  7. says

    When I worked in an office, I’d have my days when I wasn’t at my best… but I could bluff my way through it. Postpone a meeting by pretending I was busy and important rather than unable to think clearly, fluff around for an afternoon doing mundane tasks that didn’t require much attention – and no one would notice.

    Writing is quite different, because you can’t fool yourself. And it’s bloody frustrating to know what you want to say but not be able to get it out the way you want to. Just keep typing and drafting, and know that it will click back into place soon. Maybe let out all the other feelings onto the screen first to help clear your head? (Not necessarily to post or publish anywhere, just to help you.)

    • says

      That’s exactly it Megan! When my mind is a mess just the thought of TRYING to write is exhausting. Of course I don’t help myself by telling myself ‘there’s no point, it’s going to be crap’! But I definitely agree that a good way forward is to just write already! Whether I can use it or not, it’s nothing if not therapeutic!

  8. says

    Congratulations to you first of all !!

    I also think “best” is relative like Karen and was just talking to someone this week about how those of us with super high standards worry so much about delivering our best all the time when even if we slip a little I trust it is still on par with those that don’t make themselves rewrite and perfect every little thing. Sometimes “good enough” is best too.

    • says

      It’s funny Deb, I’ve always been a bit smug that for a recovering perfectionist I have great aptitude for saying ‘good enough’. But clearly my smugness is completely misplaced because clearly, I am currently not content with ‘good enough’. Time to re-calibrate!

  9. says

    I agree. It’s 100% okay. Sometimes you just have to remember that your 80% is probably still better than other people’s 100%. My main thing is to make sure I lock fresh eyes onto everything I write before I call it ‘finished’. I catch the horrible stuff that way. Not that I write horrible stuff, of course!

    Congratulations! I hope everything goes well with the pregnancy. x

    • says

      I think that was the problem with one thing I wrote last week – I wrote in a hurry, pressed publish … and then when it had already gone out to subscribers and I read it with fresh eyes, I just cringed. What an idiot!! I will not make that mistake again!

      And thank you :)

  10. says

    Firstly, HUGE congratulations Kel, I am super excited for you!!

    I also think if ever there was a time you were allowed to go gently on yourself it is now. But that being said, its all relative to who you are as a person. I know you like to be busy and are so driven, so it probably wouldn’t make you feel better to ease off.

    I on the other hand am struggling quite a lot with my blog of late and decided I was no longer going to post for simply the sake of clocking up another piece. Its a personal choice, this “slow blogging” mantra and would not work for everyone. Like Megan, I find it hard to fool when it comes to writing so I do err away until my mojo creeps back. That being said, I know sometimes all it takes is simply writing (even badly!) to help rediscover your writing groove.

    • says

      Thank you Donna! So much wisdom in your reply above I don’t know where to start. This writing gig is a tough one sometimes isn’t it?!! I feel like if I don’t put my best stuff out there then people will just think I have lost my care factor! But as you say, sometimes the best way to push through times like this is to keep busy and just keep swimming (writing)!

  11. says

    I love these wise words, Kel, “the more you keep showing up, the smaller the gap between your very best and your very average work will become.” well said!!

    And if I were the sort to give un-sought for advice, I’d say to you – Kelly – try to be as kind to yourself as you are to EVERYONE else :)

    But you didn’t ask, so I’m not saying :) xx

  12. zohra says

    Kelly, Congratulations!
    Take it easy, you are showing us all on the way to lead this life less frantically after all….you need to look after yourself and bub, and do what’s right for you both.

    • says

      Well I would hate to think the reader came here and thought “oh my, you just weren’t even trying today were you?!” That would be worse than nothing to read I reckon!

  13. says

    Hi Kelly. Congratulations to you family on another bubba. I would like to think we all put in 100% with our work but I live in a place called reality. Sometimes work life can’t be a 1st priority- maybe only 2nd priority today. Writers have “bad” days like anyone else. Keeping a back log of writing for that 2nd priority day seems to be the answer. You can’t please all the people all the time. XLisa

  14. says

    the thing is the ‘just showing up’ might only be noticed by you, in terms of your standard of what you like to achieve. Taking it slow and cruising is a good way to look after your mental health x

    • says

      I will take you at your word Sar!! I feel the pressure of having so many good writers (like you) as friends – I hold myself to the standard all of you set!! Maybe I need to stop doing that!

  15. says

    Well first of all CONGRATULATIONS! That is just wonderful news.

    And secondly, everything you have published right up until this point has been perfect. So I say keep doing what you’re doing. If you need a break, you’ll take it. Even if you don’t want to publish everything you write, just keep swimming.

    Congrats again, so very happy for you Kelly.

  16. Pip says

    Great news Kelly – congratulations on your pregnancy!
    As for the writing, I think it’s important to keep producing (if not hitting ‘publish’), despite an ebb and flow of inspiration and the continual glare of your inner critic. Blog posts feel so permanent, but there will always be a new one in a day, a week, a month. All the best!

  17. says

    Kelly

    Yahoo on the pregnancy and of course it’s ok to just show up. Firstly the showing up is the commitment and secondly how would we know that we were doing our best work if occasionally it didn’t shine so brightly. We are always raising the bar for ourselves and sometimes what we deem below par is not how others see it. And this is one of those occasions. Great post.

    Thank for the reminder though that I need to keep showing up for my less than regular blog.

    Fingers and toes crossed that both bubs are well and happy and they’ll be playing together in the not too distant future. xx eilish

  18. says

    I totally agree it is ok to just “show up”, and totally agree with Sarah… more times than not, you (I/we) are the only ones that notice if things aren’t quite up to scratch. If we didn’t just “show up”, we wouldn’t even get a chance to improve and make things better.
    Congrats on your pregnancy! Hope it all goes well for you this time around :)

  19. says

    You’re right to show up Kelly and here’s why.
    The first rule of getting from where you are the where you want to be is doing what you say you’re going to do.
    That’s what you do and why you succeed.

    • says

      I so needed to hear this and what everyone else has said! I am so surprised – I honestly thought everyone would say ‘no way, bail, anything but your best is not good enough!!’

  20. Marina says

    Of course it’s OK to just ‘show up’ – if others don’t like it – well – they are probably in the wrong place and can hit the ‘back’ button ad go back where they came from.
    I’m all for pushing through, just hanging in there a little bit longer – but there are times in our lives that we have to just go – “You know – this is NOT a major priority for me at the moment”.
    Kelly – you have inspired us, share wonderful – no amazing things with us through your blog writing.
    I’ve loved every word.

    But if you need space – and even space from wondering if you can/should (how will this affect my readers) have a post or two – or three off – just thinking about it is enough to declare ‘HEY GIRLFRIENDS – here’s one I prepared earlier’.
    It’s not rehashing – pull out those posts that we have loved in the past – chances are we haven’t read them – or we’ll see something fresh and new in the post on the second read.
    Give us a month of them! If you didn’t tell us, I bet we probably wouldn’t even notice.

    Take of you gorgeous one. Take care of that beautiful wonderful soul you are growing in your belly.
    Anyone who isn’t prepared to give you some space in this time will find somewhere else to be.
    Your worth is not in the number of readers – but the quality. Those who love what you share will always be here.

  21. says

    I have twice as many posts in my Drafts folder as I do live on the site. I struggle a lot with feeling like all I’ve done is ‘show up’. I often put things up and take them down again.

    That is not to say I think this is the way it should be. I suffocate my writing all the time.

    If it helps, I can never tell if you’ve just shown up. Everything you do is excellent.

    • says

      Now that is so interesting Anna – our own personal standards are funny aren’t they?!

      And I do appreciate you saying you don’t think I ever just show up :)

  22. Fifi_labelle1 says

    Hello lovely….I love the dandelion :)

    I’m so happy for your growing bump….and regarding not showing up….hey – I took a 12 month break from my little slice of ‘blog world’ (don’t think I have a really good excuse though)…..xxxxxx

  23. says

    Squealllllll Congratulations beautiful girl that is just so exciting and yes I understand completely nerve wracking too. I remember that so well, that nervous anxiety that just consumes you. We too suffered some losses and I recall being 5 weeks pregnant with my youngest and I could not think or concentrate on anything else. The minutes just seemed to creaked by so slowly, but we got there and I learned that its ok to be like that, baking that bun is the most important thing in the world you could be doing.

    Be kind to yourself and show up whenever the time suits you – and pffft to anyone that doesnt like it.

    We are always our own harshest critics but can I tell you I’ll take what ever you give us whenever you give it, because I always leave your blog after visiting with a smile and that my friend is such a gift.

    Take care hun and congratulations again. x0x

    • says

      Aw Son you are the best – I will be going to bed with a smile on my face tonight :)

      And YES the minutes/days/weeks are going by SO slowly at the moment! Thank god we go to New Zealand in a couple of weeks – that should make the time to the magical 12 week mark go faster!

  24. says

    Oh Kel, I’m so slow on catching up, congratulations!!!!
    As for just showing up, nothing you put out there is every of a lower standard, you just expect a lot of yourself.
    Take care of you lovely, and your gorgeous growing family xx

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