Number 11 – What if your best isn’t good enough?

If you’ve been anywhere near the news this week (or have 6th formers lurking somewhere in your life) you’ll know it was A-Levels results day on Thursday. A day when they coerce unfeasible good-haired teenagers  to open their results live on TV and radio for the entertainment of the masses. I don’t know about you, but even though my exams days are a long time ago I still get the familiar knot in my stomach and clammy hands when I hear these not-quite-adults open their envelopes and tell  millions of strangers the few letters they’ve worked hard to achieve.

Regardless of how this bizarre media-results-day ritual goes, every year it reminds me of my first results day, when, as a 15 year old I rang up my school to find our my GCSE French grade, an exam I’d sat a year early like everyone did in top set at my school. I remember the genuine happiness in the school administrator’s voice that matched my own when she told me I’d got an ‘A’. Then this exchange happened:

SA:         Your teacher Mr XX is in the office – he’s been congratulating all your classmates who’ve rang in. Would you like to speak to him?

Me:        Um ok.

(A bit of mumbling, some rustling paper and a long pause)

SA:         Oh actually he says to just tell you well done and he’ll see you in a few weeks.

Now I don’t really know why he didn’t speak to me – maybe he needed a pee or wanted to blow his nose or had just made a cup of tea. But to my 15 year old self the reason was clear – I had got an A when the vast majority of my classmates had got A*s. The grade that had felt like an amazing achievement 5 minutes before was now second best, a silver medal when I was expected to get gold. I wasn’t a failure by any stretch but I just wasn’t quite good enough to be important. Thinking about that moment this year,I know my confidence took a knock that day. I’m naturally an ambitious person but I’ve often found myself saying as an adult:

“I used to be competitive and then I realised I never won.”

I always say it in an off-hand, jokey way but deep down I think I’ve believed it for a long time. That really there’s no point competing or trying your best at something unless you’re going to be the best at it. That you’re going to win.

And now I realise that this feeling has been haunting my blogging for the last few weeks. It was my three-month blog-iversary this week and I can’t quite shake off the feeling that it’s not quite good enough. Not quite good enough to have my posts accepted by a news and blog website or to attract PR requests or to get more than a handful of views each day.

What if it’s always like that? What is the point of writing it if it’s always just not quite good enough?

But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that actually that shouldn’t matter. I didn’t set up this blog to get loads of freebies or become a blogging superstar, I set it up to help me write regularly. And it has. I’m only just not quite good enough if I compare myself to other people so I’ve decided to stop and celebrate my writing achievements, not in comparison to yours or anyone else’s but on their own:

  • In the last three months my blog has been visited 1,998 times, with my most popular day seeing 235 people reading some words I wrote. Six months ago no one had read anything I’d written (outside of work) for ten years.
  • This week I reached 40 blog followers and over 600 Twitter followers. Most of these people are strangers but they still thought what I was writing was worth following.13920789_10101180861117264_7476760761594332660_n
  • I got a story accepted as part of a new exhibition celebrating women’s creativity (you can read about it here) and I got to show the Child what I can do.
  • The first radio script I have ever written made it through the first stage of BBC Writersroom call for comedy scripts. There’s still about a million stages to go before they invite you in for a coffee or even give you any feedback but someone thought what I’d written was worth reading more than ten pages.

These might not seem huge achievements to you but I hope by listing them here they’ll remind me, when I inevitably have another confidence wobble, that even when my best isn’t the best it is good enough.

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  1. Yorkshire Wonders

    I think they are huge achievements and you need to seriously congratulate yourself! I think everyone (if you are normal 🙂 ) feels moments (ok more than moments!) of self doubt. We look at others and see a successful, self assured individual and yet inside they are probably a seething mass of insecurity.

    In my life before children I worked with some highly impressive people and we often discussed how we felt a fraud in our roles, as if we were just faking it and might indeed one day be ‘found out’. These other people were amazing – and still felt like that!

    Anyway, I digress, you are doing a fabulous job, well done 🙂

  2. Great achievements here!!!! I understand what you felt like. How rude of your teacher not to talk to you that day and made you feel like that! You are so right, this is your blog and you it doesn’t matter if people love it or not!Thank you for your lovely comment on my post about the blog awards xx

  3. Sarah

    Oh this post I totally ‘get’. I’m the same. I need to stop letting knock backs rock my confidence and also be mindful that I don’t need to be a blogging superstar to enjoy blogging!! Easier said than done when your that funny mix of overly competitive and overly sensitive…
    For what it’s worth I think your blog sounds wonderful and to harp back to that fateful results day, even now an A at french GCSE a year early is amazing!!! Thank you for posting this. #kcacols

  4. When I have thoughts like this I go back to basics and think “what am I doing this for?” I doodle and blog because I want to, because I enjoy doing it, and if I can make people laugh with me, then fantastic!
    It’s so easy to get sucked into the whole stats and ratings thing, but in my opinion, the best blogs are the ones that are doing it simply for the love of doing it. Your blog is fab, don’t stop!
    #eatsleepblogrt

  5. Those are massive achievements – you’re doing fantastically, especially seeing as you’re only 3 months in! It’s early days yet lovely, you’ll get there – the most important thing is that you’re happy with what you’re writing, and your stats show that other people like what you’re writing too! #KCACOLS

  6. erm I think you are doing fab with what you’ve achieved in 3 months! we are so quick to put ourselves down. im very guilty of that myself. be proud, be happy and keep in mind why you are doing it. I have down days too but like you said – im writing and that’s why I set up my blog too! #KCACOLS

  7. Oh but these are huge achievements – honestly they are! I was super proud of you in the week of ‘Huff gate’ when you told me that your short fiction had been chosen to be showcased in the exhibition. Your blog is hands down one of my favourites and if it weren’t for the barmy world of blogging, I wouldn’t have found a new ‘mate’. Write for you first and foremost, and your daughter / hub second. As long as you have the happy writing feels, everything else will follow organically. Sellotape fist bumps to you, along with a lot of sage head nodding in agreement.

  8. This is not my original comment, which has got lost in the ether! So take this as an abridged version. You. Rock. You’re one of the most captivating and belly-laugh-making bloggers I know and if the world gets to see this, great! If they don’t want to pay attention, then balls to them. I’m very proud that you got your short fiction featured in an exhibition, that’s a big leap into the passage of recognition and respect for your writing. I bloody love you mate.

  9. I think you are doing amazingly for 3 months. I am 5 months in and not doing that well! I can relate to all you have said here. I have always strived to be the best but often just miss out, and with blogging I feel I really am no where near good enough. Yet I keep going. I love it. Congratulations you for your fantastic achievements. #KCACOLS #EatSleepBlogRT

  10. Its amazing how those little things when you are young can shape your whole adult mindset. I love your blog and think you write fantastically. Not being accepted for things only 3 months into blogging is very common and in no way reflects your ability. It’s just that so many people start blogs and so many blogs fail within 6 months to a year because people give up. You are doing great, as your achievements show, be proud! #EatSleepBlogRT

  11. I really relate to this. I’ve always had feelings about not being quite good enough and blogging has brought them into sharp relief because you’re putting yourself out there. It sounds like you are doing a great job. I definitely agree with the idea that it’s great to be writing, regardless of what the blog stats say. #bloggerclubuk

  12. I think these are huge achievements – BBC writers room!! So exciting for you 🙂 I know what you mean though, I sometimes feel like that with blogging, like your blog’s success is only measured against how well everyone else is doing. I know that I sometimes forget to just realise how far I’ve come in just 5 months. You should be so proud lovely, your blog is awesome and I love reading your posts. Keep going, you’re doing fantastic! Xxx #bloggerclubuk

  13. Notmyyearoff

    They are brilliant achievements so very well done!!!! That teacher should be ashamed. I had a similar thing with a teacher at college and I wish I could meet him now and basically say “in your face!” (I probably wouldn’t say those exact words :D!)

  14. They are brilliant achievements so very well done!!!! That teacher should be ashamed. I had a similar thing with a teacher at college and I wish I could meet him now and basically say “in your face!” (I probably wouldn’t say those exact words :D!). Just discovered your blog. Nice to meet you!

  15. These are fantastic achievement and you should be proud. I’m only a month and half in and I worry about these things too, it’s hard not to compare yourself with the amazing blogging talent out there and feel you’ll never measure up, but their journey is a different one. The only person you can ever hope to be better than is the you from yesterday. Progress is still progress, no matter how small (that’s what I’m trying to tell myself anyway). #BloggerClubUK

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