Isn’t it funny how our minds race to create chaos and upset in otherwise still and joyful moments? How we create obstacles that don’t even exist and run screaming from them?
On the beach in India the other day I found myself doing just that. As the murky ocean water lapped at my calves I recalled the story of my best friend’s brother being stung by a jellyfish decades ago. My toes cringed and I shuddered, daring myself not to bolt for the shore. Despite the brilliant sun and the warm, baiting waves I had somehow managed to invite fear to the join the party. In twelve inches of water.
Perfectionism is just like an imaginary jellyfish. Toxic to our thought, spoiling our writing or craft before we even get the chance to wade knee-deep into it.
Perfectionism had exhausted me last year, challenging every post to be just right or totally worthless… There was no in between. I’m so tired right now I can barely keep my eyes open, let alone feel confident in the thoughts my foggy brain is formulating. But I need to write. I’ve missed it. I think it’s 5am in India and I wish I were in bed in my husband’s parents’ Delhi apartment drifting in and out of the never-ending stream of car and scooter horns.
Perfectionism, I’ve realized, is the bossy, egomaniacal older sister of anxiety. If I’m not perfect, I’m not worth love/respect/success. How dramatic is that?! What I’ve learned over the past years is that bitchy, nit-picking perfectionism is also the killer of innovation, progress, and general wellbeing.
I’ve given up on a lot due to this desperate need to appear superhuman (and to be honest, never really succeeding at it anyway, leaving me in a performance purgatory). This blog was nearly the latest casualty.
My mantra when I’m feeling that pressure to succumb to the imaginary jellyfish is this:
“I will allow myself to be okay with what ____ is. This doesn’t change my value or worth.” Repeat as necessary, or in my case several hundred times a day.
What has perfectionism costed you? I’d love to share stories!