I think perfectionism gets in the way of a lot of things in life, mostly decisions. It’s easy to wait and blame the fact that it just doesn’t feel right, just doesn’t look right. It just isn’t perfect.
Every time I decide I want to write something I go through the same process. I sit down, I write the words, I read it over, I have a, “wow I can’t believe I said that,” moment (good or bad), and then it comes time for me to do something with it. I pray that my words are good, that I don’t sound like an idiot and that I didn’t make too many errors. I ask for my perfectionism to step to the side, and then I hit publish.
This process is essential for me. I know perfection is impossible, and yet my whole being still craves it. I want this perfect shimmering chiseled statue without nicks or scrapes or blemishes. But life is nicks and scrapes and blemishes. Writing something and asking it to be perfect before I allow others to read it is the kiss of death. It’s a guarantee that no one will ever read that piece of writing, because no matter what I do it will never look like that chiseled art museum statue.
This life is imperfect. Sometimes it will look like that chiseled statue, and sometimes it will look like that statue was dropped down a flight of stairs on your way to a gallery show. Some days life means shattered pieces of rubble at the bottom of your apartment steps.
If I waited for everything in my life to look or feel perfect, I would never go anywhere. The very best things I have ever done have been when I wasn’t ready. Each time I pray that I don’t make a fool of myself, ask perfection to step aside, and push publish in whatever form that happens to be. Sometimes I’m wrong. When my shit falls down the stairs and shatters into a million pieces I pick it up, and people help.
Dropping things, literally and figuratively, happens more than I would like to admit. Here’s the thing though. Those falls have been made so much easier because of the fact that I wasn’t holding those things up on a pedestal. I knew they weren’t perfect. I have stood at the top of the stairs awaiting panic and terror to come as I stare down at a million little pieces, before I think, “ehh. It wasn’t perfect anyway. It’ll be better next time.”
I could go on about this with respect to every aspect of my life and every decision I have ever made, but I won’t. I don’t think I need to. I think it’s easy to know the things that perfection steps in the way of, we just want to pretend we don’t see it. We want to let it do the controlling because it feels easier, and strangely exciting. It feels like perfection is doing the best thing for us, asking us to wait until he is able to do the impossible. It’s hard to see that perfection is a liar. He fears the unique, and all he wants is to make everyone look the same.
The best gift I was ever given was my ability to half-ass. To ask perfection to step to the side so that I can get some really meaningful almost perfect, good enough stuff out into the world right this second, over and over and over again. I am so thankful for my half-assery. I hope that it never leaves, so that I am allowed to produce nearly perfect things and let them go for the rest of my life.
Don’t let perfection lie to you and tell you that your best isn’t good enough. Make your decisions. Use your voice and tell perfection to step to the side, so that you can do some really amazing, almost perfect, things. If it all shatters into a million pieces, don’t worry. You can make another, and it’ll be better.