Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Perfectionist


I was going through the exercise of cleaning out my blog drafts today. Lots of times I start something, even if it's just a sentence or two, and sort of file it away for a day or two in the future, when it's had time to perk and develop. Or I need a little extra help to get started writing. And after several years of ignoring them, I decided to clear out space.

As I was going through the list, I found this one from January 2006. It's fully written and rather potent. I guess I finished and then chickened out from actually posting it because it was a tad too personal at the time. It probably still is. But it still rings true for me as I sift through my goals of what I'd like to accomplish in 2010.

What is a perfectionist? I use that term for myself sometimes, but I’m not sure that’s what it really is. On occasion, it seems more like an excuse. I’ve started writing a few blog entries over the last couple of days, but never finished them. I wasn’t happy with the topic, the tone, or the way it turned out, so I didn’t publish them. I just chalked it up to being a “perfectionist” and that they needed more work. But I think it’s really fear. Fear that somebody else reading it would find it unacceptable or not worthwhile.

This is a ridiculous assumption, and crippling. Even if I was writing articles or best-selling novels, if I let fear stop me from writing what I was thinking, I would never get anywhere. I know that I let this niggling fear stop me in many projects I would otherwise like to try, and I knew I would struggle with it in this endeavor. I just didn’t know it would show up so quickly and be so pronounced. But here it is. I’ve called it other names too – laziness, procrastination, lack of focus. Today I’m going to call it out as fear and see if I can’t get to the heart of it.

I’ve got lists and lists of things I wanted to do – craft projects, classes, new business ideas – all of them either stopped in the research phase, or the idea phase, because I felt I didn’t have the skills to make it work. And I wanted to do it right, if I was going to do it at all. My rational mind fights back with “how can you possibly be an expert before you’ve even started it.” I know very well that you need to just jump in with both feet and make a few mistakes and keep trying in order to teach yourself how to do something well. Even brilliant geniuses or experts in their field, even people who were “born to do” something, still started somewhere, made mistakes, looked foolish before they became really good at their own particular gift. And the best of them still fall down once in awhile or screw up. Everyone does. So this reluctance to start something because you may look foolish? Is the most foolish thing of all. Yes, this is my brain fighting with my ego and my self-confidence. We are going to duke it out today.

And today I am filing this little blurb about why an otherwise intelligent, accomplished and confident woman sabotages and limits herself with irrational excuses, instead of just living her life full out. Embarrassing to admit it? Maybe. But I’m doing it anyway. (And I’m leaving the little non-sentences in too, for kicks.)