A few weeks ago, a fellow blogger shared this insight on blogging: “One funny thing about having a blog is you write how you feel at a particular time and it’s etched there forever – it’s interesting to look back and see how I felt at different times.” These words were written as a preface to a post on whether or not she’s done having children, but the idea speaks to multiple scenarios.
It’s been a few weeks since I read those words, and I’ve been mulling over them ever since. I can certainly relate to the sentiment: I sometimes look back at previous posts and wonder at my state of mind when writing them.** None of us are immune to the evolution of personal feelings and opinions, and ordinarily these previously held beliefs are obscured by the passage of time. However, as someone who has chosen to share large portions of my life and my thought process on the internet, I have both the luxury and the curse of being able to look back at the ways in which my ideas have shifted. The perfectionist in me wants to go back and scrub some of my older posts clean, but my practical side has won out, allowing those writings to serve as a sort of time capsule, providing a window into my life and my brain at the time they were written.
In her book Better Than Before, author Gretchen Rubin asserts that we all fall into one of two categories: Finishers and Openers. I am an unequivocal Finisher. I revel in the sense of accomplishment I experience when completing even the most mundane task. (I am that person who puts items like “brush my teeth” on my daily To-Do list, just so that I can mark it off as done.) However, there is no check box next to the growth of our personal opinions or, for that matter, our lives. The day that we mark our individual journeys as complete is the day that we die. (And as a Christian, I believe that even that is just the beginning.) But this leaves us Finishers—and perfectionists—in a bit of a pickle: how can we find acceptance in our current (flawed) state of being, while also looking hopefully toward the future?
These thoughts were at the forefront of my mind this week when I came across an excellent post from Maria Popova, author of the popular blog Brain Pickings. To commemorate the ninth anniversary of her blog, Popova shared the nine key lessons she’s learned in her years of blogging. Many of her lessons struck a cord, but none more so than the first: “allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind.” I’m not someone who likes to be proven wrong (who among us is, really?) but Popova reminds us that “it’s more important to understand than to be right.” It often takes years of stumbling through faulty assumptions before arriving at an accurate understanding, but a flexible opinion is infinitely preferable to one that is steadfast but flawed. And to extrapolate this concept just a bit: an individual in process is superior to one who is comfortably set in her ways.
I have found so much solace in finally recognizing that my current state of mind—in fact, my current SELF—is perfectly fine, but that my present reality is simply a launching point for who I will one day become. I can have grace for my blog writings of the past, and for myself in the present, while remaining optimistic about what lies ahead. Which leads me to my current attitude (which of course is subject to change…): I will continue to read self-help books and make efforts for improvement, NOT because I believe I am inherently flawed, but because I know that there will always be room for growth. And along this journey towards personal betterment, I will remain fully cognizant of the fact that I will never fully arrive. Today, at least, it’s a reality with which I am totally okay.
**More often than not, I look back at my previous writings and realize that I’ve inadvertently written the EXACT same thing on multiple occasions. For those of you who are loyal readers, I apologize for this repetition!