Perfectionism. It’s something we’re often told we can’t attain, no matter how hard we try. This idea of being perfect is simply, impossible and a lot of them time people like myself, who are perfectionists get told we should stop. How it’s harming our productivity. And you know…I think there’s some truth in that but I also believe that we shouldn’t have to crush our inner perfectionist.
The reason behind me writing this post, is simply down to me being a perfectionist, I’m not a perfectionist with everything I do. But the things I love, enjoy and are my passion I often become a perfectionist with them. I like things to be just so it probably won’t make any difference to the person reading, looking at it. Yet for me…it makes a world of difference.
I think there are times to hold onto that perfectionism some of us have in us; just as there are times to loosen our hold on it. Let it breathe, let yourself breathe and remember…we learn from our mistakes and our failed attempts.
Staring Your Perfectionism In The Eye
Probably a bizarre thing to say, why would we want to face it head on? Why not just crush it and accept we can never attain perfection? Well…perfection seems to be derived from our fear of accepting anything less than perfect. So we can sometimes put things off, out of fear it won’t be good enough, or we spend too much time on one little aspect of something.
I’ve known for a while now I am a perfectionist with a lot of creative things, I like things to be perfect…to other people it’s probably not perfect. To me…it is usually. It’s this constant battle with myself knowing, no matter how perfect I get something, I can always improve on it. We can always improve on things from before because we’ve grown, changed, matured as a person. Our ideas will have grown and our priorities have more than likely changed.
Let’s take a bullet journal for example. A lot of bloggers will either have one, want to start one or have started one but gave up because it’s not as pretty as others. The idea of a bullet journal is to be functional…not pretty. I’ve stopped and started with bullet journals, currently I’m using a sketchbook as a bullet journal and it’s going well so far. I told myself at the beginning making it pretty wasn’t a priority, it was there to be functional. To sort my head out and get myself organised.
Yes, I’m still striving to make it perfect but I also know when to let go and not redo a banner for the third time because it doesn’t look right. (how do you draw straight lines with a ruler please, someone tell me how *chuckles*) But you know what? That’s ok, my journal is for me and I’m using it to try and ease up, on how much of a perfectionist I can be. I have to learn, when it’s ok to let it slide. When it doesn’t need to reach that level, people tell us we can’t attain.
Perfection Is Unattainable?
I think a lot of people accept ‘its good enough’ over accepting it and then trying to improve on it. You can’t attain perfection like *clicks fingers* that. Perfection is also how you choose to perceive perfect. How you may see perfect isn’t how I or someone else may see it, it’s something which is movable.
Blogs. Yes, I’m going there, that fear in all us bloggers that we’re not good enough, that our blog isn’t good enough; it’ll never be perfect often will lead to us either procrastinating on everything…or we just accept that we’ll never get it to the level we want. I think, there’s stepping stones we go on, at first it’s probably going to be a hot mess. We don’t know what we’re doing, having a play, feeling our way round this thing. We see pretty blogs, see stats, others doing better and already BAM! We feel like a failure before we began.
Stop comparing yourself to others. That’s my first step nowadays, you’re not competing with someone else, to be more perfect than them. You’re competing against yourself, to be a better person than before, to accomplish more than last time. To perfect what was already good, make it better, improve upon it. Notice it’s flaws, acknowledge them, along with what already works. Now…take what doesn’t work, how can we improve that? Take what works, does it need improving right now? Or at all?
Something this doesn’t apply to is writing, writing is a whole other story. We will never write a perfect story, poem, song ever. But, as writers every new thing we write should be an improvement in some way on the last one because we have more experience.
Perfection is attainable, if you know what you want to achieve. It won’t stay perfect for long, as you’re probably (if you’re anything like me) going to grow, learn more skills and look at what was perfect before and want to rip it to shreds and start over. We don’t rip it to shreds, we use it as a base for the next version of it.
Knowing When To Hold On; When To Let Go
Something I’ve struggled with, is wanting everything to be perfect, or done in a certain way. In reality, that’s not possible for us to make everything perfect the first time around. We have to have that first time of mistakes, learn from them, iron them out for the next time. Also, not every aspect of ours lives can be perfect. As people…we aren’t perfect. There isn’t a perfect human being that we should all aspire to be, I think we should all aspire to be the best version of ourselves.
Yes, it’ll mean a lot of stress at times, failures, self doubt, wondering if we should settle for less but…does settling for less mean you’re not happy with your work or whatever you’ve settled for?
There are times where we have to breathe, look at what we’ve done and accept for now, that is the best we can do and that is ok. We can always revisit certain things to improve them, make them better, work better. For example, your blog is ever changing, growing which can be scary if like me…you like things to all look the same, like it belongs; inconsistencies don’t sit well with me. But…I don’t have time to go through all my posts and sit their painfully formatting them all right now, maybe later on I’ll be able to take time out draw up a schedule to tackle this.
But until then, I have to let it go that not everything will look the same with my older posts, because I’ve grown as a blogger which is totally ok! We don’t get it perfect the first time around, despite what our inner perfectionist tells us.
There are times though, when we need to grit our teeth and embrace our inner perfectionist for instance, when I write I know I’m going to have to edit bits and pieces. Face writers block, and that’s ok, because I’m determined to get it
perfect right that time, and then I can go back and improve on it. But if I’m constantly fighting my inner perfectionist, self doubt with my writing…I’m not going to get far. This applies to blog posts too for those who may not be into the creative sort of writing.
For example, writing a discussion post, you’re worried it won’t be like the ones you read. I mean…I should hope not? It’s your voice, your opinion, YOU writing this DISCUSSION post sharing your thoughts with us. So write it, maybe the first draft really sucks, so what? We rarely publish blog posts in their raw draft form, we tend to edit, format, cut bits out add bits in. But if you never stare that fear in the eye, of failing, you’ll never get that first draft to work on and improve.
We shouldn’t seek out to combat our perfectionism forever, it’s not something that needs to be squashed forever. It’s something we should recognise, as an area of grey. It’s not black (bad) nor white (good) but grey – it’s a mixture of good and bad. It’s something which can hinder us, yet also something which can help us improve. It’s about seeing the bad in this trait we have, facing it, accepting it; embrace it and embrace the good it can also bring you.
When we first start out in anything, we’re usually not good, some people recently have said; they wish they could write stories as well as I can. Instead of trying they’re just accepting that they won’t? It hurts that 11 year old girl I once was, I stared that dream of being an author in the eye, and said to myself I have nothing to lose by starting now and since then I never stopped writing. I think I’ve always had a natural way with words, which has helped a lot. But having a natural talent doesn’t pay, if talent doesn’t work hard. Someone who isn’t naturally gifted but works hard, could still achieve the same results as that talented person who just didn’t try as hard. They’ll probably never reach that same level if they both tried hard, as one is more natural at it than the other. But they shouldn’t be competing against one another. It’s about competing against yourself.
Try, Fail, Try Again
A lot of us have dreams as a child, and people around us probably influence, whether we actually chase those dreams. Some of us have had those unrealistic dreams, like wanting to be a singer, or an actress something that typically, people around us smile and say that’s great. But they probably won’t encourage you, they’ll encourage you towards more realistic dreams, like being a teacher, doctor, lawyer a job which pays well, is mostly stable. Not a creative job, which is hit and miss, not a guarantee you’ll make it and could take years for you to break through.
How many of you, reading this have wanted to be an author? Or wanted to go into a job that your parents disagreed with? How many of you tried, failed and never tried again for fear of failing and getting told be friends, family that it’s a waste of time?
When I was 11, I knew in my own mind I wanted to be an author as my job. Oh look – unrealistic dream alert. I was aware back then, I couldn’t live off of my writing right away, if ever…I need a back up. A job that would provide me income to support myself. Back then…the back up plan could wait. I dove into writing, I’d just started Secondary School and writing became this escape for me. A place I could create, manipulate and tell these stories. Weave pieces of myself, friends and family into characters, it went a way to making the writer I am today. It taught me to write regularly, I actually get antsy going too long without writing now.
It taught me that not everything will be perfect, and you’ll face hurdles, you’ll fall down and there’ll be people who’ll ask you why you’re even bothering. Why bother? You’ll never make it? You’re not going to be good enough? Strong enough? Fast enough? Talented enough?
You can’t fail…until you stop trying
That is what I live by, and have lived by for several years now. As long as I’m trying my best, I’ve not failed no matter the outcome. I tried, and I’ll keep trying until I’m happy with the outcome. That is perfectionism, to me, persevering until you, yourself are happy with the end result. Seeing others happy or react positively towards the end result is always going to make you feel better. But you should be in this for you, not for anyone else.
Wow so this is my longest post to date, but I hope you take something away from reading this super long post. This topic is pretty close to my heart for obvious reasons, and I’m sure it’ll resonate with many of you.
Let me know your thoughts on perfectionism, whether you’re going to embrace, destroy or work with yours? I’m doing my best to work with mine – at times it’s difficult but worth it.