it doesn't have to be perfect

Last Friday, I sat on a stool at my parents' counter in Indiana. My mom worked nearby at her computer while my niece, Lily, carefully crafted a Father's Day card. After I heard her crumple up two pieces of paper in a row, I looked up from my computer screen. 

What's going on, Lil? I asked her as she grabbed another sheet.
I messed it up, she told me while beginning to write h-a-p-p-y again.

Within a minute, she tore up another sheet. My mom peered up from over her screen, catching my eye with a smile. 

It doesn't have to be perfect, my mom told her while winking at me. Your dad will love it no matter what.

I was reminded of myself 20 years ago as I watched her color carefully. One of my very best friends in first grade, Megan, always colored so neatly, leaving me feeling like my pictures were too sloppy. I always tried to slow down and emulate her, outlining each picture first, then pressing the crayon extra hard.

But, mine never looked so perfect as hers. 

This week, I was reading blogs and admiring projects so many women my age have taken on. Amazing, talented girls are running full-blown businesses all around me. As I stumbled upon one amazing project and realized the girl in charge was only 28, I began to feel like I was watching Megan color again. Why doesn't my business look quite as amazing as hers? I wondered to myself. 

I wonder if I'd had a piece of paper representing my ideas, if, in that moment, I would have crumpled it up.

I reminded myself that I'm not called into competition with these other women, but, instead collaboration.

And, I remembered, in that moment, that everything we do doesn't have to be perfect.

Sometimes, we'll fail. Big ideas will end up with small results. Numbers will be lower than expected. Readership will be quieter than we had hoped. The card won't be as beautiful as we had planned. But, it's OK. It doesn't have to perfect. 

Oftentimes, the bravest thing we can do is try. 

Images via Natalie Puls