This is where I think, pray & process out loud. I’d love for you to join me on the journey. Please chime in on the conversation by leaving your thoughts and comments! Subscribe to my blog http://shannonwexelberg.com/blog/feed
I remember it well. I was standing in front of a video camera, while the eyeball of another human being pressed up against the other side of the camera staring at every pore on my face. This individual – who also happens to be a good friend – was waiting for me to say something brilliant – or at least I imagined that’s what he hoped. Surely the words should roll off my tongue as jaws dropped in amazement.
I had written and recorded six songs based on true accounts of the Persecuted Church. But when I had to stare into a camera lens and actually speak coherently about why these stories are important, it’s like my brain froze over. Every intelligible thing I might’ve said, had I been sitting with a friend at, say, a table in a local coffee shop, escaped me. Some would call it performance anxiety, but it would be more rightly called “perfection anxiety.” Or for the medically-inclined among us – “Fear of Being Found Less than Perfect Syndrome”.
My good friend behind the camera knows me pretty well by now. He could tell I was sweating proverbial bullets. So, he stepped out from behind his camera and pulled me aside – away from the other songwriters who seemed to have things a bit more pulled together than I. I expected him to coach me – tell me how I could say things more eloquently, or even feed me a few good lines. But he didn’t. Instead, he said, “Shannon, I think I know what’s going on here. You are afraid of NOT being good at something. And the truth is, you may never be great at this or ever feel comfortable. You’ve spent years perfecting the craft of songwriting and singing. But this…well, the only way you’re going to be able to do this is if you’re willing to be mediocre and have that be OK.”
Well, I’d like to say I walked away from that revelatory moment and hit it out of the ballpark, peering confidently into the camera like I had a decade’s worth of news-anchoring under my belt. The truth is, I don’t think I ever watched that part of the video in order to witness how I actually did. Ignorance is bliss, right? But, I do remember continuing to struggle as I spoke and being utterly relieved when it was all over. But I also remember,it just didn’t matter as much. Mediocrity and I were on friendlier terms.
Since then I’ve thought about that day when faced with similar challenges. And while, sadly, I’ve backed away from some opportunities because I just didn’t feel up to par, I’ve also stopped and asked myself at other crossroads, “What have I got to lose? What does it matter if I am exposed as so-so, or the average Josephine? How many situations will I avoid because I’m afraid it won’t be a shining moment?”
Even this blog. I have good intentions. I love to write. I really do. But a month goes by, then six. And after that many pages of the calendar get torn off, I feel foolish and like a failure. So, instead of blogging, I avoid blogging altogether! I stick my head in the sand. After all, (I think) if I don’t have the time to really polish each word or convey my deepest heart in an extremely articulate and soul-stirring manner, well, why bother? What a trap that mode of thinking is. (Am I the only one who falls into that big ol’ pothole of perfectionism?)
Because, when it’s all said and done, maybe just showing up is a great thing. Half the battle, as they say. Perhaps just being willing to sit down in front of a blank computer screen, or stare into an absurdly cold, beady-eyed camera, or do whatever it is we feel will expose our weak underbellies…maybe that’s where our meager offering and the miraculously ordinary collide and become something more than we imagined.
Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just plain, mundane and vanilla at its blandest and pastiest. And that’s OK too. Because we need to remember – both on the days we feel like a tarnished old trophy cast into the dumpster past our prime, as well as on the days we are dancing effortlessly at the center of our sweet spot – we are treasured. We are beloved. And our performance simply doesn’t get to weigh in on that equation.
The truth is, I am more gloriously taken aback by a beautiful, transparent, broken and run-down soul who isn’t afraid to be a mess than I ever am by a perfectly packaged, hit-it-out-of-the-ballpark kind of mannequin. So, why wouldn’t that be any less true as others look at me? Or, more importantly, as I look at myself?
So, here’s to the messy. The mediocre. The mundane.
Here’s to the clay pot that’s been glued together one too many times. Because love seeps in and out of us toward other broken souls much more fluidly when we aren’t afraid to let our cracked selves show.
Perfection is so ordinary. It’s actually pretty boring. Oh so predictable.