Not perfect, but done

Image by the brilliant Stuart F Taylor

When I was young, I used to think about all the things I wanted to be when I grew up. Looking to the future, I’d see myself in lots of different roles. Lawyer (the first, and most intense of my Future Dreams), comedian (very brief desires, always stamped out by the fact that I’m not as funny as I think I am), and often writer (that one’s stuck).

It was – and still is – fun to imagine all the cool things I could do and be if I had the skill, and put in the effort.

But something’s changed since I was younger, and that’s that I think far less about what I could be, or what I want to do, and more on what I want to have done. Looking at writing, I am less likely to imagine myself beavering away at a desk with a typewriter (most dreams of writerhood involve those clackety old typewriters, despite the fact that they’re deeply impractical things), and more likely to imagine myself lying face down in a pile of scribbled-on manuscript, exhaling a sigh of relief and exhaustion.

Less likely to consider what I want to do in future, and more keen to think about what I want written on my gravestone.

“She tried her best” might be a good one. Or right now simply: “Knackered.”

I don’t mean this in a morbid way, incidentally. It’s a nice thing. Nice in the same way as the following advice, given to me by a guy I love very much:

“Calm down,” he says, and manages to make the two most patronising words in the world sound warm and understanding. “Don’t worry.”

Then he puts both hands firmly on my shoulders, stares deep into my eyes and says the most comforting thing in the whole wide world:

“You’re the only human who will notice your failure here. Not one other person gives a single, gift-wrapped fuck.”

I know, it sounds a bit mean, but it’s good because it’s true, and because it’s a more fun way of saying: chill out. Have a break. Eat a massive tub of Quality Street and stop panicking about all the things that aren’t quite perfect.

These things will never matter as much to other people as they do to you.

I’ll be honest: 2015 hasn’t been easy. But it has been incredibly fun. I’m lucky enough to have met a bunch of awesome people, and written for some other great people, and finished another book. I’ve also been overwhelmed at how many people – total strangers, in most cases – have been willing to share their sexual experiences and thoughts in guest blogs.

Yet I rarely ever go ‘oh, looks like a pretty awesome thing happened, huh?’ because I am a fool and a dick and a ridiculous worrier. Everything I do gives me a twinge of panic. It’s not good enough. It’s not quite right. It’s thrown-together. I am anxious about everything – everything – from a jokey tweet to a lighthearted comment, through blogs and retweets and back again. Every conversation I have in the pub is subsequently analysed by my rubbish brain, until I find a flaw with it that’s enough to make me bite my fist and convince myself that I’ve offended a friend. Every blog post is published with a hammering heart, in a whirlwind of worry, in case it’s hit the wrong note.

So at Christmas I think about all the things that have happened over the year, and each and every one hits me with another gutpunch of ‘not quite good enough.’ I worry and I fret and I cock up the Christmas lights and my tree looks like shit and I’ve bought no presents yet.

And nothing will ever be perfect. It can only be ‘done.’ And sometimes done is fine.

Likewise this blog post. I wrote three drafts and none were right. None will ever be right. But this is… fine.

If I were to come up with a resolution for 2016 it would be to give up control of things more easily. To be able to shrug casually and say ‘well I can’t always get things right.’ To ditch the idea that one day I’ll grow up to be perfect, having ticked every task off the list and done it in a way that I can be genuinely pleased with.

So there’s my 2015 in a nutshell. And, should I happen to get caught in a freak mince-pie accident sometime in the next week, it is also the message I’d like on my gravestone.

Here lies GOTN: not perfect, but done.

There’ll be no guest blog this week but I’ll still be around. If I can muster the energy there’ll be a traditionally filthy Christmas Eve post. If I can’t, please picture me lying in a pile of wrapping paper, lamenting my appalling last-minute gift choices, drunk on mulled wine and wishing I was somewhere I could have a Christmas wank in peace. Stressed, pissed, festive.

Not perfect, but done.


  • rare deeds says:

    You’re just fine, gotn.

    Hope you have a properly happy new year!

  • RB says:

    Merry Christmas, GOTN! You are a worry wart and a perfectionist but those things show that you give a shit about what you do, which is what makes the quality as good as it is. Been a great year on the blog (and thank you for giving me a space to guest blog about my torrid fucklust as well!) and I can’t wait for the book.

    Big love to you and yours.


  • Azkyroth says:

    One of the things I was pleased to discover as an adult is that other people generally don’t remember your most embarrassing moments nearly as vividly or readily as you do.

    (Unfortunately, they’re rarely obliging enough to outright forget.)

    • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

      There’s something deeply unfair about the way that memories of happy times and moments of triumph tend to fade, but moments of failure and humiliation remain etched in vivid detail. But maybe that’s nature’s way of producing the next generation of comedy writers.

  • Jessy says:

    Your last words are so perfect that I want to put it on a frame and hang it on my wall.

    Have a stress free Christmas and enjoy! =)

  • Northern Boy says:

    Merry Christmas you marvellous human

  • Tom Striker says:

    Oh, GOTN! You have given me so many, many *gifts* this year in your musings. I have found myself many times reading and fantasizing and, well, taking the very necessary break from reading . . . .
    I hope you have a great holiday, find yourself a few minutes to be alone with yourself and enjoy yourself, as you seem want to do.
    Looking forward to your next book, and your next post!

  • I’m a perfectionist too. And often caught by the fear of is it good enough.

    Sending you love, hugs, and all the best for an amazing Christmas and New Year.


  • twolips says:

    Very philosophical end of year … *like* … I wonder how comes that you seem to be wonderfully able to give up control in sex play but not outside… And it’s so sexy and thrilling to have a highly intelligent meta-aware ‘girl’ exploring sex and BDSM and …
    Merry X-mas from Germany

  • Faith says:

    This made me so happy. I’ve felt such an affinity with the way you fuck and talk ever since I started reading your blog (2 years ago now). Now I can feel an affinity for the way you worry as well, but hope that I’ll be similarly able to tell myself I’m fine. You’re not just fine, you’re bloody great. Carry on.

  • I’m a perfectionist, too, but dispair at writing anything quite as good as your prose.

    As regards the comedy – you could do stand-up. Just read one of your less serious stories out loud. It’d bring the house down.

    Done, GOTN? Hope you’re not half done yet!

  • SpaceCaptainSmith says:

    I expect many of us (certainly, every writer) have struggled with perfectionism, that curse of deadlines and destroyer of work. I mean, it feels like a good thing, always expecting the best of yourself and telling yourself you can do better. But in reality it’s just another means of self-abuse (not in the good way) and setting yourself up for disappointment. At worst, it can lead to self-destructive behaviours just to provide excuses for why you aren’t performing as well as you ‘should’ be. And the end result is, stuff gets done late or not at all. I remember going through all this at university, fun times.

    I don’t know if there is a cure as such; but part of growing up is learning to accept when ‘OK’ is sufficient, embracing realistic goals, and accepting ourselves as we are rather than frustrating ourselves with thoughts of who we could have been. (Besides, the grass is always greener on the other side – those dream alternative careers probably wouldn’t have been as great as you imagine.)

    Like you say, nothing will ever be perfect, but to be held back by that is to end up doing nothing. Brave people accept inevitable imperfections in their work and take it in their stride. (And as that guy noted, we’re always our own worst judges anyway – everyone sees flaws in their own work that nobody else notices or cares about.)

    Other people don’t judge you by what you didn’t do, they only admire what you’ve done. And you’ve done pretty well so far as far as I can see. Happy Christmas, and roll on 2016.

  • Hyacinth says:

    It’s an absolute truth that no one is caring one fuck about anything you do. We’re always surrounded by people just like us, worriers and anxious folk. Once I realized that, I finally saw the Matrix.

    Happy Christmas, as you say!! xx Hy

  • fan says:

    So true. I’ve recently lost my job and feel like a failure, but your words are so true, no one cares but me!
    Wishing everyone a succesful 2016

  • I’ve never really thought about what will be on my tombstone before this…

    Maybe I’m just too selfish. If I’m not going to be there to see it, who cares?

    I try to be the best person I can be and simultaneously keep myself entertained… with varying degrees of success.

    Thanks for making me think with this one!

  • Jillian Boyd says:

    So much truth in this. Thank you for this post, GOTN. Hope you have the smash 2016 you deserve. x

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