I admit I love this quote, simply because for many years I have suffered the curse of perfectionism. I first started using the term as a badge of honour, a qualifier that showed I had high standards. The problem was the standards were always unachievable, which made me feel a failure. Even when I was doing well, it wasn’t good enough. I thought it could have been better, I could have done better and, most detrimentally, I should have done better.
My constant disappointment at myself and where I was in my life compared to where I thought I should have been made me despair and I became apathetic and fearful. I would start new projects all the time but would never finish any of them out of fear that I may get it wrong, it mayn’t be good enough, I might make a fool of myself, I may be thought of as a fraud and I may be disappointed again. Now it’s important to note, nobody was telling me these things, nobody pressurised me or berated me. My problem was I looked up to too many people, I had too many heroes and I kept comparing myself to them, wanting to be them but I saw these people falsely as demigods, perfect and whole. And when you’re trying to be like 100 great infallible illusions, even one mistake or setback can be devastating.
“I never put off till tomorrow what I can possibly do – the day after.”
― Oscar Wilde
Months on end would pass when I created nothing, I had huge blocks of creativity and the fear would build inside until I became a passive lump. This is what is generally known as procrastination. The funny thing was I never recognised the fear, I didn’t really feel afraid but I was. I’m not sure how to explain this part properly because the driving force behind procrastination is fear and denial, but while you’re in the process of procrastinating you’re calm and could even be happy. This is because procrastination isn’t fear itself but the avoidance of a situation that causes fear, it’s fear avoidance.
“Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
I took a while to get my head on straight, to not only accept but embrace mistakes. A big help in this was my family, my Husband and my Parents, they not only showed me support but have taught me that mistakes are where we learn and show courage enough to take risks. The truth is, and it’s a truth that was hard to admit, that the path to success is failure. So:
My New Plan = Make as many mistakes as possible
Here are some online articles that shed light on the illusion of perfectionism:
- Embracing Failure on the Path to Success
- The Paralysis of Perfectionism
- How to End your Affair with Perfectionism
- 14 Signs your Perfectionism has gotten out of control
An ironic and yet enlightening quote to end with: