When I talk about blogging with students (or faculty) who are just starting to blog, someone almost always asks “how do I know what’s good enough to share?”
It’s a great question. I ask it of myself almost every single time I sit down to write a post. It seems to me that the question reveals two separate but related types of uncertainty:
- “What if I’m wrong?”
- “What if my audience doesn’t like it?”
This post is about the first uncertainty: the fear of being wrong or otherwise imperfect.
Despite all the educational texts and scholars who reassure us that we learn through mistakes and grow through conflict, I have a major, lifelong problem with a fear of being imperfect. For what it’s worth medical training does not help those with natural tendencies; in fact, it makes it much worse. Learning in the open, specifically blogging, has been one way for me to hack away at the conditioning just a bit.
I blog, therefore I reveal my imperfections. Often. In public.
This morning Lee Skallerup and I spoke with Ken Bauer’s class on digital identity, just like I threatened to in my last post. Lee was great. I was absolutely horrible. I couldn’t make eye contact with the camera to save my life. I know this because I watched the video later this afternoon. It was a distracting amount of a lack of eye contact. It was subpar. It was definitely imperfect.
My impulse, of course, was to rip myself to shreds. I had a parent’s night at my daughter’s school tonight. My husband stayed home to watch the kids and as I drove alone to the school I started the ritualistic self-pugilism. It may sound overly dramatic to call it self-pugilism but no – no one will ever be as hard on Laura Gogia as I am on myself.
However, as I pulled up to the school I said to myself: You’ve had a migraine for the last four days. You still have a migraine. Your head hurts like hell. You’re exhausted and ragged and you didn’t do great today but don’t you think it’s time you gave yourself a break?
Giving yourself a break. It’s impossible under some circumstances to do your best, let alone be perfect. Everyone deserves a break, even you. Even me.
Perfection comes through practice – from trying and failing and picking yourself up and trying again. I didn’t do great today but I could learn from the effort. Migraine or no, I’ve gotten into a bad habit of not making eye contact with the camera during video conferences. Friends have been mentioning it since April. It’s a lazy move – I’m an introvert. I write better than I speak, and when I have to think and speak at the same time it’s easier for me to focus (or maybe I just enjoy it more) if I crawl back into myself and pretend no one else is there. I talked it over with my family (I showed them parts of the video) and we decided that I should tape a picture of them next to the camera lens and talk to that the next time I do a video conference – for a little while, just to get me back into the habit of actually TRYING to present well.
There’s a meaning to this brief, rough blog post – because, like I said today, I never hit the publish button unless I think at least one person out there might find something in it useful. I (you) can get better, but first comes
- screwing up
- giving my(your)self a break when I (you) screw up.
- take what I (you) can from the experience and strategize.
- get better.
We all have to learn that. Blog to find out how to blog. Only then will you know what’s worth sharing.