Lay Down Your Shield and Surrender to Imperfection
So how does a highly sensitive, over-thinking perfectionist go about writing her first creative article to put out into the world? First, spend hours mulling over what to write. Second, spend hours scrolling through all the articles on Medium for inspiration [searching for the perfect topic to write about]. Third, spend hours mulling over topics and thinking about checking a few more articles to make sure I have all the ideas I need. And so the the cycle goes on. And so another day goes by and I have escaped the risk of taking any ACTION, but I have done plenty of “researching” for my PERFECT article.
I am a collector of information. A reader of books. A listener of podcasts and audio-books. I devour the words and intently listen to self-help guides, personal development gurus, and the memoirs of my heroes. Then diligently move onto the next one, and TAKE NO ACTION! I just need to read one more book on goal setting before I set some goals. Then set the goal of reading this list of 10 more books…off I go. Thank you to Robin Sharma, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell, and Dan Harris (to name a few) for all the words of wisdom and calls to action I never took. I was never quite ready, always needed more information. I’ll just make sure this next book doesn’t say something I have missed. Forever hiding from the RISK of taking action on any goal other than reading another damn book.
So why am I writing this article, what has changed, why am I finally putting pen to paper (fingers to keys)? Maybe the messages are finally sinking in, or maybe I have just reaching the point on my journey where I am ready. Or maybe I finally read the book which clicked, well two actually.
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert reminded me that I need to just DO for the pleasure of DOING, not with an attachment to the outcome. What do you love doing? Get it out of you and into the world, and if the world doesn’t like it, that is OK, you enjoyed the experience.
I have always loved journalling, pouring my heart and soul onto the pages to explore my thoughts and often over-analyze my psyche. I have also dreamed of sharing the insights I have gained from my experiences, in the hope of touching the lives of others. However my mental gremlins, fear of judgement and over-riding fear of “I’m not good enough” always paralyzed any action on that front. But Liz Gilbert has written a beautifully inspiring book, with prose which dance from the page and gently nudged me to take this leap. As I smiled my way through the pages I was eloquently reminded that “without creative risk you will never push yourself out of the suffocating insulation of personal safety and into the frontiers of the beautiful and unexpected”.
“you are allowed to have a creative voice and a vision of your own”
And then Brene Brown blew my socks of with her Gifts of Imperfection. She touched every corner of my being with her academic descriptions of shame, perfectionism, vulnerability, self-judgement and fear, delivered in a heart-felt memoir reflecting my own life so vividly.
I have always striven to be brave, and proudly proclaimed to be achieving this by leaping from any height into unpredictable waters below, jumping from a plane or climbing to the top of a mountain despite crippling mountain sickness. These were all exhilarating experiences which I highly recommend, but in reality not really acts of bravery for my personality. As I read the words of Brene Brown I winced and recoiled at the realization that the ultimate display of bravery for me is…VULNERABILITY. Jaw dropping reality; my perfectionism is my biggest weakness and true bravery lies in stepping into the unknown and being vulnerable… gulp.
You see, PERFECTIONISM is a standard we hold ourselves to. If we are perfect we will never feel the pain of judgement or shame…but this is faulty logic, because perfection is not possible. There is no such thing. No-one can be perfect. It is an unattainable goal. And because it is never achieved we never take action, never take risks, never move forward.
“Perfection is the SHIELD we are drag around, thinking it is protecting us, but it is preventing us from taking flight”
All my perfectionism [paralysis] is doing is causing me to miss opportunities and sacrifice my dreams for fear of putting anything into the world. Fear of judgement or making mistakes; a self-destructive belief system.
So as the words scream at me from the pages of Brown’s book, “you ARE worthy, you ARE good enough, you ARE imperfect and that is OK”, here I am, taking imperfect action. I’ve never read a book or creative writing, and feel I really should before I dare to post an article like this. I’m putting this out there for judgement and critique. I’m allowing myself to be vulnerable. So this is my ACTION, my act of BRAVERY. Hopefully this is the first step on the ladder of sharing some more of my wisdom from my journey so far. Apparently this is the way to develop resilience…bring on the comments and lets see…