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An Ode to the Unfinishers

An Ode to the Unfinishers

Sometimes you start something, only to, halfway through, lose all the original motivation and desire to finish it.

HASHTAG ME HASHTAG OMG SO ME IT COULD LITERALLY BE ME DRESSED UP AS ME WITH MY NAME

I run with things only until they fly away.

For too long I felt like this was some kind of Bad And Wrong part of me; we all have that, right? The part that mustn’t be uttered about or shown in public because LO! THY SHALL BE STRUCK DOWN BY THE LORD (or that bitch from school who you don’t even speak to and once said you were a show-off, or your mum, or your best mate, some randomer on social media) WITH A DAGGER OF LIGHTNING (or, y’know, an off-the-cuff sentence about how that’ll never work, that you need to pass X exams or have Y experience or nosh off Z-list celebs) AND SMITE YOU TO DEEEAAAAATH (read: send the inner shitty committee absolutely rampant in your own mind).

I forced past-me into doing things because that was visually how I “should” be presenting myself to the world. Stay the course, nose to the grindstone, push through the boredom and the pain and the awkward middle stage.

There is a place for people who stick to their guns in this world. Laser focus breeds success, slow and steady wins the race. The rest of us? Watch the laser-focused race-winners smash goal after goal, wondering what fucking coffee they drink and what shade of pink their yoga leggings are. Then we buy their courses that we don’t finish, and we start their workouts that we quit after a couple of weeks, and we wear the same t-shirts and bathe in the same bath salts and follow their morning routine and and and…

And when you’ve seen the discarded dreams, the unfinished art, the ideas that only ever made it to paper, the 50% completed courses, the guilt we feel as we think of the money we’ve spent on memberships and classes and stuff that scream their incompleteness when we log into our email or rifle through the understairs cupboard, it can feel overwhelmingly like a bag of failure.

We forget that we too are consistent, we too have succeeded, we too have gifts. We just do it in our way.

We’ve all stuck it out in jobs, we’ve all dedicated our time to relationships, friendships, we’ve all felt the joy of completing something, however small – a jigsaw, an awkward call, a wheel of brie (don’t deny it, I know it isn’t just me) – that meant something to us. We’ve all finished something, but you don’t see us celebrating that because it’s not what we feel is worthy enough.

What if – WHAT FUCKING IF – you decided to love the shit out of your “unfinishedness”?

What then?

“I didn’t finish that gym program… and I LOVE THAT.”

“I didn’t complete the Spanish course… and I LOVE THE BONES OFFA ME”

Loving it feels a bit weird, right? I can hear you all now, “I ain’t getting on no love plane, fool” All right, Mr T. Calm your tits. You don’t need to love that part of yourself, but the aim is for acceptance.

“I haven’t finished that book that I started reading… or writing… and THAT’S OK”.

Being the person who started to totally drop in to loving my Unfinisher opened up my eyes

Yep, initially it felt like I was just lying to myself. “No you fucking don’t love it, you twat. You hate that you spent thousands on that online course years ago and then logged in twice”

But then I started to be ok with it. I didn’t immediately start jumping to the “you’re a total shitbag for not finishing” rhetoric I had historically run to in my mind. I had a few micro-seconds of grace. And then a few milliseconds. And then a few seconds.

But there was another, better, stranger part; I stopped being the person trying to do all the courses and buying all the gym gear and following all the success-drenched, laser-focused bellends because I didn’t actually like most of it.

I got to hear myself – and listen.

I became way more discerning with what I was spending time and money on, with who I was following, and with what I wanted to learn.

My ideas got louder. I started actually fucking FINISHING stuff. And finishing stuff that MEANT SOMETHING TO ME. Small things, like washing my face every night. And then bigger things, like starting a new business (I actually started two in 2018. but that’s a story for another time)

Now?

I let go of half-read books. (Most books? Unless they have some wild end twist, I get the joke in the first half. Then they can go back from whence they came #oxfambookshop #overloadedkindlelibrary)

I cancel the subscription when I notice the program or membership isn’t really “me”.

I cherry pick the people I follow on social media. I consciously choose the people I want to engage with in real life.

I support causes I believe in.

I start things before I’m ready, and if I realise it’s working, THEN I buy things that help save me time or money (or invariably I realise that I didn’t need half the things that you’re told to get anyway).

I have SO MUCH LOVELY, LOVELY SPACE for ideas now. My super-power isn’t about being the tortoise that wins some success race, but being the space for the ideas to spring up in that isn’t clouded by the opinions and ideas of people who simply don’t work like I do. I’ll win the damn race all the same, but the only people in it are me, and me-but-from-yesterday.

Sometimes the finishing isn’t the specific finishing goal you were expecting it to be, but rather the decision to stop, and to be agile enough to move to the next thing. And look, I’m not here trying to enable people to just quit all the time, but you know – you know – deep down if you’ll regret not completing something to the best of your ability, or if you’ll regret something for staying the course too long. 

The world needs finishers, but there isn’t only one type. Whether a tortoise or a hare, or a demented chinchilla with a speed habit, you are needed in the world.