This weekend I finally hung some pictures that have been lying on my closet floor for months. I had been avoiding the process because I wanted their placement to be perfect. I had wanted it to be exactly right.
After all, I spent money on these pictures, got them framed, and cared about how they looked on the wall. I’m also slowly adjusting to the role of “homeowner” and wanting to be adult about how my furniture and wall hangings look.
(Never mind that the pictures are stylized versions of Rogue from X-men and Amy Pond from Doctor Who, purchased at SF Comicon)…
But my point is, as I finally pounded some nails into the wall and placed the pictures, I felt myself being drawn out of the perfectionist stupor. And it was such a freeing feeling. I don’t get that feeling very often due to intense perfectionism, intertwined with fear and anxiety.
I never thought of myself as a perfectionist. I never considered that my intense approach to writing, to projects, and to lifestyle was not romantic brooding; it was just basic annoying perfectionism.
The fact that I’m a perfectionist was pointed out to me in my mid twenties, at my first office job.
I was expressing frustration at some edits I’d received on a newsletter to go out that week. My boss was trying to console me, gently explaining that this kind of feedback is natural and should be expected.
“You’re a perfectionist – so naturally it’s more difficult”. She said this so matter of factly and as though it was the most obvious fact in the world.
“I’m not a perfectionist!” I responded, honestly surprised and interested that she would think so.
“Oh, you most definitely are” she responded. Not in a mean way, but in an amused older person way, with kindness, and almost sympathy, knowing that I would now have to adjust to this new reality about myself, that apparently everyone knew except me.
I’d always prided myself on being self aware. The fact that this had completely escaped my notice was profoundly upsetting.
And also upsetting because I had never found perfectionist tendencies to be an attractive quality in other people.
Working with perfectionism is a constant struggle. So often I have found myself with endless drafts of work that I haven’t published because they could still use a tweak here or there. When I go back to read them after some space has been allowed, a few weeks, months, even years – I get immensely irritated because, as a perfectionist, the works are actually pretty damn good. I could have easily published them in their present state.
But my mind insisted on convincing me they weren’t good enough.
I spoke with a career / life coach recently about this very thing, and about the very blog you’re reading right now. She asked me “why is hitting publish so difficult”?
“Because then it’s out there. I’ve said to the universe, and to anybody reading, this is a finished product. I’m making the statement – this is my best work.
And what if there’s a typo, or what if in a week or two I find a better picture, or come up with a much better concluding paragraph?”
“But that’s the beauty of online writing – you can just go in and edit it!”
Why had that never occurred to me?!
Of course, that was almost exactly a month ago. And here we are, I haven’t published anything after she and I agreed that I needed to be way less fear stricken about it. I have done a lot of thinking, as us introverts are wont to do, and the conclusions are the same as they’ve been my whole life. Just fucking do it and stop being a scaredy cat. But also don’t be too hard on yourself. But also, find some fucking balance. 😛
So. Without further adieu:
I pledge to commit myself to non-excellence.
The shift in thinking won’t happen overnight. But I am starting to believe in the power of intention setting, so this is my beginning.
I am attempting to shift the fundamental thought process that has hindered the growth of this blog, and affected other part of of my life, and caused me stress and disappointment in myself.
Join the journey – and comments welcome! Have you or someone you know struggled with intense and hindering perfectionism? What are some things you do to push through?
Keep Exploring, Historians ♡