The Paralysis of Perfectionism
I haven’t posted anything on here in quite some time. You might think I haven’t been writing, or that I’ve forgotten about this space. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve written tens of thousands of words these past several months; mostly handwritten and scrawled in my journals, but several thousand typed up on my laptop, waiting in limbo, for me to figure out what to do with them. I think about this space daily, about how I’ve neglected to tend to it.
Often I’ve felt like if I can’t perfectly and eloquently put forth a piece of writing, it’s best not to share it with the world. I’ve realized this need for perfectionism has been stunting my personal growth and holding me back from sharing my perspective on so many things. I have found myself paralyzed, more frequently than I’d care admit, by perfectionism.
The need to be perfect can be crippling. The fear of doing something poorly, or not even poorly, but rather, “not perfectly” can lead one to not take action at all. Why write a book if it’s not going to be any good. Why write a blog post if every word hasn’t been perfectly curated. Why workout if you’ll never make it to the Olympics. It sounds absurd doesn’t it? That’s because it is. I have failed so much in my lifetime that I’m honestly not sure why I’m so fearful of failure. You would think that rather than inability to act, I would have developed a harder shell and kept pressing forward. Perhaps after years of defeat, I’m simply too worn down to try anymore. What a ridiculous notion. Am I just not going to attempt to do anything for the next fifty years? That prospect is even more terrifying than failure.
Marcus Aurelius’ words of wisdom often bring me peace, so I searched for some on this topic. On perfection, he says:
“This is the mark of perfection of character - to spend each day as if it were your
last, without frenzy, laziness, or any pretending.”
No mention of getting every little thing exactly right, but rather of being truly authentic in your living and efforts. A nod to trying, doing, and being your best. And this level of “perfection” is attainable. I just need to try my best. So here I am, ripping off the bandaid. Sharing my imperfect words and and thoughts. Challenging myself to overcome the paralysis. And encouraging you to do the same as well.