The Problem with Perfection
"Perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat" -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
I've come to the realization that I've let my fear call the shots in my life for a really long time... like, too long. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being misunderstood, and fear of appearing less than "perfect." I'm finally learning that my fear (and maybe yours too) just needs to be respectfully acknowledged and then, as Elizabeth Gilbert recommends in her book Big Magic, we must learn to travel comfortably with fear without giving up control.
Obviously, we're not talking about the type of fear that keeps you from walking down dark alleys or stepping into traffic. I mean the type of fear that is only meant to protect your ego. The fear that tells us we have no talent and no gifts to offer this world. Honestly, I really can't believe that anymore, I truly believe we are all here for a reason, a purpose that we each need to discover for ourselves.
Fear has let me lose myself so much so that I'm finding myself retracing my steps from the beginning when I was much younger. I'm trying to figure out what she was all about, her dream and ambitions, and what she would think of me now. Would she even recognize me? God, I hope so...
My Need For Perfection
The fear of appearing less than perfect has been a major problem of mine for most of my life. Even now, I get too preoccupied with creating the perfect intro, the perfect SEO, the perfect Instagram image for my feed and this post. It's a bad habit of mine to think that it all has to be perfect before I even dream of putting myself out in the ether for the world to judge.
But all this has lead to is dozens of half-finished blog posts and ideas that keep growing in quantity but never finished into quality. How the hell do people do it then? I want so badly to make everything pretty and perfect, but often am too afraid to finish anything enough to publish. What good does that do for anyone?
There is a silver lining though. Lately, I have been gaining what feels like traction. It's still early to tell for sure, but I thought this post would be a good reminder to keep going and to let you know what steps I've been taking to get over this obsession with perfection.
Take A Breather
When I find myself coming up with tons of other things to do then what I set out at the beginning, I pay hard attention to it. I make it a point to take a moment to give my mind a chance to pause and reset. I try and quiet my mind for at least a few moments. This always gives me a subtle but powerful feeling of "breathing room" for my thought process.
Sit With Fear
"It seems to me that the less I fight my fear, the less it fights back. If I can relax, fear relaxes too." -Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic
Let's face it, fear isn't going anywhere, the idea that we need to overcome our fears isn't to say that we defeat them, it's just that we learn to live with them and do what we want anyway. This has been a HUGE revelation for me. As I briefly mentioned before, learning to make space for fear instead of shoo-ing it out has been so much easier. Plus, it's just so damn freeing.
Give Up Excuses
So, we must get in the habit of calling out our own B.S. I am lucky in that my husband has never been afraid to call me out when I'm making excuses or procrastinating on something that I've been saying I will do but then don't. Fear wears many hats and many disguises, including perfectionism. With that said, pay attention and learn to determine when the fear is needed and when it's not.
I once heard a motivational quote that said something like: it's more important that you push yourself to do that thing you've been putting off when you aren't in the mood, then it is to work on it when you are in the mood. Anyone can finish that project or sign up for that class when they are feeling inspired, but the secret lies in what you do when you aren't in the mood. Hence, why I am here. Writing and showing up. Even if it's just for myself... Actually, especially just for myself.
It's not easy by any means, but I know it will be worth it. With that said, I truly hope you got something of value from this and if you have anything to add like tips or insight, please let me know in the comment section below.
Until next time, with love,