The Honesty of Failure

Humanity doesn’t appreciate lies.

I don’t care what the philosophers say. This, to me, is a fact. And unless you’re some weird-psycho-alien-thing, I’m going to assume that you don’t like them either. I certainly don’t. I don’t particularly enjoy telling them either, so I feel the need to have a brief moment of honesty and share something incredibly personal with you:

*deep breath*

I am a deeply flawed human being.

I’m sure you’re so shocked.

But really, it’s true. Take my blog, for instance. Do any of you have any idea how much this thing stresses me out? Beyond the bounds of normalcy, let me tell you, and generally for stupid reasons. Like, say, achieving quality. Quality of writing, quality of humor, quality of consistency, quality of editing (yeah, I’m really horrible at this one), quality of style… The list goes on and on, and I feel like I have to accomplish EVERY SINGLE ONE in each post or else I’m a terrible blogger.

When I first started my blog, I was the definition of a clueless petunia. I did it because my sister told me to, and I stand in mortal terror of her when she gets an idea into her brain. I did it because a bunch of my writer friends also blogged, and I was told it’s “the thing to do” when you’re an aspiring author. But most importantly, I did it because it sounded fun. That ought to be a good enough reason, right?

I was told to keep my expectations in check — there are so many blogs out there, and so many unique ones. In the storm of overwhelming talent and beauty the internet holds, who am I to even dare hope that my piddly little corner of net space will hold a candle to all of that?

And yet.

And yet I did hope. As I’m sure we all have, at some point in our lives, when we’ve faced impossible odds. And there, for a moment, nothing mattered. Because I hoped with all I had: And I had fun.

And there, for a moment, the impossible happened.

It’s not a perfect blog. In the grand scheme of things, it’s not even popular. But in twelve short months, I gained the one thing I least expected: Loyalty. People liked what I had to say, and time after time, they came back for more. You — my readers, my commenters, my faithful following — you were the most unexpected blessing of my blogging experience, and to say I appreciate you is an understatement.

But.

But with unexpected success comes unexpected pressure. When I started, I was just having fun; you had to take it or leave it, ‘cause there weren’t enough opinions to matter anyway. But slowly, things changed. I grew an audience. People who expected only my best. And suddenly, the pressure to entertain became real.

In the whirlwind of my clueless stage, I accidentally created a standard for myself — an impossibly high standard. Now, I have to live up to it. Post after post, and each one has to outdo the last. I can’t fail:

So many are watching. So many are expecting me to be… well, me.

Yeah, yeah, I’m an arrogant, independent little perfectionist. We established that a while ago. But this is a real struggle for me, and often times, it’s debilitating. I’m so scared of disappointing the high hopes this world has for me, of letting down both you and the person it’s taken me years of ambition, struggle, and perseverance to become. I’m terrified of letting down myself, so much so that sometimes, I’d rather not write at all than risk falling on my face.

And I will fall. If the world expects me to be me, then I have no other choice. Because I…

I am a deeply flawed human being.

And when I write, how can I pretend to be anything more than that?

That’s when it hit me: If I truly want to meet my own expectations, I have to be imperfect. If I truly want to secure my audience, I have to mess up. Honesty is what endears me to people, because when we’re honest — truly honest — about our flawed human natures, we can finally see the glimmer of Christ working in us, despite our imperfection.

So I will fail. I will struggle. I will have to stomp on my perfectionist’s ego time after time after time, and even after all that, it will still rise up to haunt me. I will write stories that fall flat, and characters whom nobody can connect with. I will publish blog posts that are stupid, that are silly, that are too deep, or not deep enough. My humor will be strained when I try too hard, or it might completely disappear for posts at a time.

Because nobody, not even the Sarcastic Elf — the one who delights in raindrops and falling leaves, the one who laughs at every misfortune and grins in the face of embarrassment — not even she can be at peak performance 24/7.

And all the while, I will be me.

Not a perfect writer: But I tried my best.

Not a perfect blogger: But at least I keep going.

Not a perfect girl: But my perfection is in Christ.

Honesty.

Humanity doesn’t appreciate lies. So at least, in my failures, I can tell the truth.

Because I hope:

I hope that despite it all, despite the shortcomings and the weaknesses and the failures, honesty will keep me going.

Honesty with others: I’m a messed up sinner striving for God’s holiness in a world that won’t allow it.

Honesty with myself: I won’t always succeed, and I won’t always keep up with my own personal standard of quality, but that’s okay. No one expects otherwise.

And above all else, honesty with God.

God who gave me the gift of words, and God who will take them away if He sees fit. God who was behind my every success, and God who watched my every falling. It’s God who I should strive for, not my own human idea of excellence. And when self-made pressure tries to cripple me, it’s the knowledge of God’s love that should keep me walking.

I am a deeply flawed human being.

But so are we all.

~Sarah

32 thoughts on “The Honesty of Failure

  1. This is the number one thing all artists are terrified of, my dear. Not to set yet another impossible bar, but if you can remember this post for the rest of your life, you’re going to have better management on this issue than most of us get in a lifetime. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yup, what Julia ^ said! 🙂 We’ll love and read your posts regardless of when you post them, whether or not they’re coherent, and even if they’re grammatically incorrect. We don’t want perfect. We’re happy with whatever we get! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Honesty is important; thank you so much for being willing to share. This post was an encouragement to me, since I often struggle with the same thing, the same demon of perfectionism.
    And you certainly do have loyalty. We are always here for you, and we’ll love you no matter what. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this!!! It’s right behind “The 60-page Theory” with my all time favorite blog posts! (How do you write this stuff in 30 minutes when it takes you an insufferably long time to just write one chapter in your book, HMMM?)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *nervous laughter* Heh, well, considering this was only 800 words, and a normal chapter for me is 5,000…

      That’s the ONLY reason, I can assure you… *more nervous laughter**coughs*

      Like

  5. You’re a flawed human being!?

    WHAT!?

    And all this time I thought I was reading the blog of a Sarcastic ELF. All these weeks and posts and sarcastic-isms and I’m just let down like this. The site is even called Sarcastic Elf.

    And then you have the nerve to start this post with “Humanity doesn’t appreciate lies.”

    Well I should say not.

    I should SAY NOT.

    In all *honesty*, though, I get how people’s loyalty would start coming with more pressure. It also means that people are more dedicated to your content and willing to forgive you, too, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. *Gives you a thumbs up* I for one, shall always rush to read your posts, even if they’re not perfect, even if they’re not right on schedule. Because YOU write them, not because the posts themselves are “perfect” (though let’s be honest here people, they’re pretty awesome), We come to hear from you – whether that be with boatloads of sarcasm, masterful humor, or just a quick “hey guys, things have been pretty rough this week, but I’m still alive” post.

    You did make a great point in this post though, we often forget how flawed we are, and find ourselves expecting perfection – but y’know, I don’t think people want someone who’s perfect, I don’t at least, I love honest people. You know why? Because they are REAL, because I can relate to them (the best thing in the world is to be able to say, “hey! me too!” when reading about how someone feels), but you know the main reason? Because God shines through those imperfections the most. We don’t get to see our Jesus’ power if something or someone is “perfect”, it’s through the mistakes, and the cracks His Light shines through.

    Well that, got sorta. . . deep.
    *slinks back into hole*

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “God shines through the imperfections the most.”

      You got it, dearie. And it’s funny, because I find that some of my closest relationships were a result of us mutually laying forth our flaws and admitting that THIS IS ME, the sinner striving for God. Pretending we’re perfect was never what God wanted from us; only through admitting that we’re NOT perfect can Christ do a perfect work in us.

      Like

  7. I get you, girl! Like Julia said, we don’t like you just because you’re an entertaining blogger who writes #relatable and fun posts. No. That might have been what caught our attention at first, but its YOU that keeps us coming back.

    I’ve struggled with this too, like when I’ve only gotten one or two comments on a post or I’ve lost a follower. But insecurity can set in even when things are going good and the hype is up. We’ve just got to remember that we’re not alone, and even the most successful bloggers deal with insecurity and the pressure to be perfect; perhaps even more so.

    Good for you for opening up about this, that takes courage. God bless! <33

    Like

  8. When you got to the “not a… but a…” part, this quote popped into my mind. “Not a perfect soldier, but a good man.” So… Sarah, you get to be Cap, I guess.

    *would hug you but, well, INTJness on both sides means that might not be such a great idea*

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wait, she gets to be Cap? But, but… I’m… Cap… (There’s actually a joke with some of my friends that I’m Cap. (cause someone sent for Wilson, Barnes, and Rogers. :D) )
      Do you have a shield?
      *imagines Sarah as Captain America* o.o What have you done! Why is the world falling apart? (Okay, maybe I exaggerated…)

      Like

      1. I’m not 100% sure I get the joke, but if you’re Cap, then I guess you are. Sarah can go back to being Loki.
        I’m not sure if you’re asking if I have a shield, since it was my comment, or Sarah, since I called her Cap. (I don’t, though I have plans to make one.)
        Heh, Captain America would be much more snarkier, then. And yeah, t he world would probably fall apart… on the plus side, her enemies would probably be too shocked by her snark to fight back during their epic battles, so……. that’s good, I guess?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. That’s okay. 🙂 (It’s from Winter Soldier or Civil War.) She should… The world would be a better place…
          Sorry. I was asking. but I don’t have a shield either. 😛
          I know… Cap would not be the same… So much snark…
          They might be. XD She would probably go so far she would ride a hydra to attack Hydra. And Hydra would just stare at Cap wondering where all this sarcasm is coming from and why they didn’t have a hydra first…

          Like

  9. Who said elves were perfect anyways (Originally they made shoes and caused mischief)? They may look perfect, but who knows what’s going inside? And who said the sacastic elf always has to be sarcastic? Do howler monkeys always howl, do puffer fish puff all the time, are fairies always happy, do elves always get bullseyes? The answer is no. But are they still howler monkeys, pufferfish, fairies, and elves? Yes. So you are still the sarcastic elf. Even when you’re not sarcastic. *nods at her logic*
    Everyone messes up. We understand. And other bloggers struggle with this too. Only a few followers, pressure to try and get more. More followers, pressure to keep up everything. Some days you just have ignore however many followers you have and just write your best as if you only have One who reads your blog. And if other people want read, then well, bonus readers. 😉 (Be an optimist. The glass is full (half air and half water), there’s another way out (even when it seems like there isn’t. You just haven’t found it yet.), a blue sky (it may just be behind the clouds).)
    Honestly, don’t compare yourself to other people. That can be one of the worse traps of perfectionism.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s