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On vulnerability, perfection, and helping the person behind you

Don't wait for perfection

This week, someone (gently) suggested that before I give advice on topic X, I should improve my skills in that area, and gave a few examples of where I need to get better.

(Which, as I read it, is basically an “It’s a little awkward to watch you teach in this area because you aren’t the most qualified person.” kind of thing.)

I’m not gonna lie…that was a little a lot painful to read.

It’s not that hard to hear someone else tell me I have room to learn, because ohhh, I know that better than probably anyone, and I always am wanting to improve and learn and grow.

No, the painful part is being reminded of the vulnerability that comes with teaching people what you know, even though you’re not an expert.

What makes this an especially vulnerable thing to do on the internet is the fact that there are probably going to be some experts reading what you write and teach.

Even if that’s not the case, it’s always true that there IS someone else on the internet more qualified to teach on any topic you choose.

There are lots of people out there who are better than me at DIY projects.

Or food waste reduction.

Or piano playing.

(To wit: before I did that periscope of me playing the piano, the voices in my head said, “People who are better musicians than you will watch it. And they will be all, “Why does she even think that’s good enough to share?”)

Or photography.

Or simplicity.

Or homeschooling.

Or baking.

Or cooking.

Or blogging!

This means that every time I publish something, I have to shove away those niggling little voices in my head that say things like:

“You are not good enough to write this.”

“You should be embarrassed to hit publish. Get way, way, waaaaay better first.”

“Someone will look at what you wrote and think, “What?? Why is she giving advice when she’s unskilled/such a mess/so inferior to Person X?”

“Someone else can do this better than you.”

There’s some truth in those statements, but here’s what I tell myself when those voices threaten to take over.

I might not be an expert, but I’m farther along than someone.   And I don’t have to wait until I reach perfection to help someone who’s behind me on the journey.

Are some people better at sewing/mending than I am?   Yup.   But there are also people who know less than I do.

So, I can help them sew on a missing button, or learn how to replace a riveted metal jeans button.

jean button rivet tool

Are a lot of people better at photography than I am?   Oh my soul, yes!

But I can share the things I’ve learned over the years, and that’ll help people who are just starting their photography journey.

schoola skirt and shirt

Are a lot of people better at frugal living than me?   Sure thing.   In fact, I think a lot of my readers are!

But that doesn’t change the fact that there are people who know less than I do about living frugally, so I can share what I know and help them grow in this area.

I don’t have to wait for perfection to help the person behind me.

And YOU don’t have to wait for perfection to help the person behind you either.

Wouldn’t it be an awful world if we all waited until we’d reached expert status before we helped other people?

In a world like that, I’m pretty sure no one would ever help or teach other people, because I know even bona fide experts still hear some of those niggling voices in their heads.


You know more than you used to about something, right?   Well, that makes you qualified to give someone behind you a helping hand.

And that’s true even if you’re only a few steps into a journey that takes 10,000 steps.

It’s a little terrifying, I know.   It feels a bit like sticking your hand out when you know there’s a possibility that someone will step on it.

FG, Sonia, and Zoe

Being willing to do that is half the battle!  The world needs people who will extend a hand, even when it’s scary.

If you never extend your hand, you’ll be safe.

But if you never extend a hand, you’ll never be able to help someone either.

And when I think about it like that, I realize that I’d much rather risk being stepped on than risk not helping someone.


P.S. This post is an interesting exercise in practicing what I’m preaching! I clearly do not have this whole shove-aside-the-niggling-voices thing down pat, but I am a little better at it than I used to be.   So, I’m sharing what helps me get past the voices, and maybe it’ll help some of you who are listening to the voices more than you should be.

P.P.S I’ve also been reminding myself hard that it doesn’t have to be perfect to bless other people.



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Monday 26th of October 2015

Hi! I really needed to read this. My paralysis stems partially from lack of huge chunks of time & the Not-Being-Perfect-Enough-To-Move-Forward Syndrome! Thank you, This is a push I needed

Amber Lee

Saturday 10th of October 2015

Thank you for this. I think for me the voices that run through my head are: There are a lot of people out there already saying and doing the same thing. You're late in the game. Yet, I see blogging and other social media venues as a way of sharing and encouraging other. It helps to know that people want to share, and share so freely. No, it is not about being perfect--it is about being available to encourage those behind you the same as some one did for you.

Again, thank you.


Saturday 10th of October 2015

Such wisdom! Love this post and your words! I too often have those inner voices holding me back but when you put it in a way of helping those behind you, it makes sense! Thanks again!!


Friday 9th of October 2015

So true, and yet so hard to remember. It's so easy to get caught up in thinking we're not good enough. I came across a quotation this week that read, "What is obvious to you is amazing to others." It's good to keep that in mind when feeling like you've nothing to offer.


Friday 9th of October 2015

Yes! And if we all share the things that are obvious to us, the world will be full of helpful people.


Tuesday 6th of October 2015

You've already gotten so many lovely comments that it almost seems pointless to add to them :) but I just wanted to say, the first thing that popped into my head when I read this post was, "oh, wow!" I was SO surprised that anyone would have that comment/suggestion for you, not that they were trying to be harsh or unkind, but just that I've always noticed you being super cautious/humble when giving advice (like with the photography series... I think you said about one million times, "I know I'm not the world's best photographer, but here's what I've learned!" or the equivalent). Honestly, sometimes I find it easier/less intimidating to learn from someone who doesn't seem like they're light-years ahead of me--someone who has knowledge that I don't, but also remembers what it's like to be in my less-knowledgeable shoes. Ya know? :)

(Also I have to smile at your and others' comments about not having a thick skin and also being super conflict averse/sensitive to others' feelings... it's always nice to know I'm not alone!)


Tuesday 6th of October 2015

Oh, please know that it's never pointless to comment! I love to hear from readers, and every single comment pops up on my blog dashboard, regardless of what post it's on.

And thank you for your kind words!

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