The Prison of Perfection
Updated: Aug 7
Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. Delete.
Earlier this week, I told my therapist about my hesitation to publicize my writing. I told him what I want to write about and he said, "Well, that sounds like a really good idea to me, what's stopping you?"
Haha. If only the next question was easier! After saying I didn't want to fail, (which sounds ridiculous because I was already failing by not writing; but also, how could I fail at something I was not actively doing?) he asked, "What does failure mean to you? What does it mean, for you, to fail? What does it mean to succeed?" OK, NOW, I really wanted to walk out.
Write. Delete. Write. Delete. Write. Delete.
Why? Why am I not writing? What's inhibiting me? Why am I so afraid to fail and what does that mean for real? Those are very valid, difficult but also healing questions that I challenge you to think about too.
Truth be told, I was very scared of not being good enough. I still am, despite being in recovery.
Write. Delete. Write. "That just does not sound poetic or coherent enough. Is it well-written? What if it's too forward, boring?" Arrrggghhh it just doesn't sound good enough." Delete. Delete.
My gosh, like me, so many of us are imprisoned by the "fear of failure" which I now realize is just a fear of facing ourselves. It is not really that we do not trust other people, that's just another excuse in the catalog, it is that we do not trust ourselves enough to show up as who we really are. We are scared to see ourselves, actually. Scared to accept ourselves in our real time form because we are so often preoccupied with who we want to be that we avoid any reflection that shows us who we are right now . It is much easier for me to blame other people for not giving me a seat a table [which I have not even shown up to], than to acknowledge that I need to put in some more work into earning that seat. That I am the reason why I do not have a seat at that table (there's always room, often times for a whole new table). I think it is essential that we move away from seeing ourselves as insufficient into a place where we feel grateful that we have that much room to be better than we were yesterday. That we do not have the doomed destiny of staying stagnant forever. To find it so beautiful and gracious of this space we occupy to be elastic enough for us to grow.
We are so obsessed with the illusion of who we would like to be that we don't want to get disappointed when we get faced with the fact that, that's not who we are—not right now.
We are also imprisoned by the illusion of perfection. I hear so many people who take pride in being perfectionists but as someone who is in a hopefully winning battle against it, perfectionism is a curse. It impedes progress, authenticity, and creativity. I have not written or published anything for so long because I am always waiting for it to be perfect. To sound perfect. Read perfectly. Be received perfectly. Setting myself up for up failure, really. Luvvie Ajayi always says something about how the first draft is meant to be bad. It exists to make the final draft better and that's a word I have been trying (and failing) to live out. Honestly, I think of all the weeks of progress I have thrown in the wind because I am holding on to the false reality that I will wake up one morning be a NYT Bestseller. But today, I choose to take a step toward progress. A step toward growth and a step towards acceptance of who I am now while actively working to be the person God has made me to be. And to remember that the process never ever happens the way we picture it. We cannot formulate a route to a place no one has ever been. Heck, a place that does not even exist yet.
Find out your "why". The "why" is more important than any other question. My lovely friend sent me a tweet the other day that said,
Fall in love with your purpose but never your plan, plans change, your purpose does not.
So... Why am I writing? Precisely, because when everyone looked like they were having a good time and the world was busy spinning, I was cocooned in a suburban bedroom for 5 months —feeling depressed, purposeless, and lost, even though somehow hopeful. I had no one to relate to, no clue where to go or how to go where. I am writing because my experiences are purposeful. I am writing because I want one less person to go into the real world oblivious and naive like I was. I want one less person to feel blindsided when they face the real world. One more person to feel encouraged and seen. I am writing to share stories that inspire me and of course I am writing because I really like it. Plus, I paid two years for this website.
I promised my therapist I'd publish something before our next meeting. only took me until the day before.