Les Vosges forest

Showing the mess behind the masterpiece: quiet your inner critic and create

The things that I share – my creations – start out very differently from the nice, clean version that appears when I finally hit “publish.”

There is a much messier process that the world never sees, but I must admit: it’s exhausting to hide that mess.

It reminds me of housekeeping: the way that we obsess over presenting a perfect home, even though deep down we know that everybody is just as busy as we are. Our friends’ opinions aren’t going to deteriorate just because our home doesn’t look like a showroom model. It’s lived-in. That’s a good thing.

People relate to our ragged edges.

I know this, but even so, I often get stuck on trying to present things in the best way possible, shining a light on things in a world that’s so often dark. The fact is that sometimes it’s good to acknowledge the shadows. The messiness that has brought us to where we are.Park bench

Recently I’ve been struggling to figure out what exactly I want to contribute to the world. After 6 months of travel, I feel absolutely awestruck. I’ve seen and experienced a LOT, and I want to share that with the world, but sometimes I paralyze myself with doubts about whether my story is what the world wants, or whether it’s truly useful.

log cabin

I traipse around with 6 full notebooks worth of experience and morals and lessons, yet much of that has yet to be shared because I get hung up on whether my thoughts are really ready for the light of day. We all get those thoughts. Is it good enough? Do people care? Will I really gain anything?

The fact is that we simply won’t see the results most of the time. People may be silently following us. Gaining something really, truly important. Maybe we don’t see it now. Maybe we won’t see it at all, but it’s critical to push past that voice that tells us it’s not good enough, because the only certain way that it will be useless is if it never sees the light of day.

Yesterday an old friend invited me to share my story in a new way, and in that moment, I realized that yes, there is value. Even the ragged edges, the silly stories, and the seemingly insignificant thoughts. When we string them together, they become so much more. They create our reality, and they can even help others learn to create their own.

We all have a story to tell, and it doesn’t have to be perfectly polished for other people to appreciate it. In fact, it’s easier for people to understand when it’s not perfect.

I’m challenging myself to be more candid. To share more. To act more and criticize less. Granted, I still have an endlessly critical mind, but I’m going to try my best to acknowledge those self-criticisms and put things out there anyway.

This is, after all, how we connect with people. Not through perfectly-crafted masterpieces, but with stumbling words and imperfections that make our story all the more real and interesting.

So without further delay, I wish you a very warm welcome to my first un-edited post. I’m throwing in some more of my favorite travel photos for fun – I’ve been drifting toward more and more still life lately, casually improving my photography skills and learning to appreciate some of the simplest things, and I hope you enjoy them too.

Les Vosges forestOf course I’ll still create posts that are carefully planned and pruned, but just as importantly, I’m going to share more of my story, because I think there are people out there who need it. If that’s you, then please, take heart in knowing that even the prettiest of things may have started in utter chaos.

Enjoy this messier side of things, and begin embracing your own.

Boundless goodness,

Jacquelyn

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