There is a place in which most accomplished-but-still-self-doubting people frequently exist. It’s a creeping place, the kind that gnaws at you and refuses to let you forget that you are not there. It’s the land of the people who are successful but aren’t quite sure how, who feel like they lucked into something they actually worked very hard for — the people who hold their breath because they think one false move will make it all go away.
I call it living in almosts.
It’s the feeling that what you’re doing, what you’ve done, who you are — everything about you is almost but not quite good enough. Almost but not quite exactly what anyone else is looking for in that moment, in that instance, in that circumstance. Whatever the goal — a job, a relationship, hell, even a strong-enough credit score to land an apartment — there is some sinking, nagging feeling that you overlooked something, that you said just one tiny thing wrong, that you didn’t do everything perfectly, and so because of that one small, hairline fracture, everything else will come tumbling down.
So you overanalyze. You microanalyze. You lay awake at night, trying to find the flaw, picking yourself and your attributes over, even though you know by now that there is nothing else to glean. There is no more. What you did is what you did, and what will happen, happens. You say this like a mantra. Que sera, sera. What is out of your control will happen whether or not you worry yourself to death over it.
Still, though, there is that fear.
I have always struggled with the concept of almost, but not quite. I think I fear it more than I do abject failure, honestly, because in that small space of the “what could have been,” there is an infinite amount of questioning. If you fail outright, if you are told no, if you cannot pass go and cannot collect $200, you know that is it. It’s done. That’s all there ever could have been, and it’s that much sooner that you can lick your wounds, eat your pint (or three) of Ben & Jerry’s, turn around and find another path. You can learn from your mistakes that much faster. But when it is an almost — when you are strung along and think that maybe this (whatever this is) could really be it, The One, the moment at which you finally achieve your dream, only to find out that no, now is not your time yet — it feels almost like a waste. Like you could have tried harder. Like you should have said something differently. Like you were so very close to having everything, if it weren’t for something you did to sabotage yourself somewhere along the line.
But the fact of the matter is, almost does not shift the blame onto you. Almost means you’re actually on the right path — there just might be a little more work to do. Almost is an arrow in the right direction, if you can find it. And you always can. Sometimes it just takes a step back from the gleaning, the obsession, the manic fixation. Sometimes you just have to let things be.
Because sometimes, it simply isn’t your time yet.
I know that’s a trite aphorism, and so much of life is equal parts timing and equal parts working very, very hard, but how much of each can you rely on? Simply, then, you work very, very hard, and then when timing is ready for you, it will let you know. But that feels like you’re leaving a lot up to chance. Which, honestly, you kind of are. But that’s how the world works sometimes. Not everything is meant to be in our control.
First, though, you have to believe you’re good enough as it is. Or you have to tell yourself, even if you don’t believe it yet. Because if you don’t, who else will?
And even if you’re not — if you’re not yet, you have to tell yourself, because eventually, you will be, in some capacity for some role or someone or some dream — then that’s fine. After all, nobody’s perfect. And getting everything right on every first try is never the case.
So fail, and fail a lot.
Fail spectacularly. Fail the most anyone has ever failed before. Get so close to something and let it slip out of your grasp by millimeters, because at least that means you reached as far as you possibly could — and maybe next time, you’ll be able to stretch a little further.
Maybe next time.
That little maybe is called hope.
And hope is what helps turn the almosts into reality.