Surprise, Surprise: Self-Doubt Is Not Your Enemy

I am forever fighting against perfection. There exists within me a legitimate desire to be very, very good at things — even the best at some things — coupled with an intense desire to discount all my efforts by forever banishing them to the Not Good Enough Pile. I am always hanging in that balance of am I being unreasonable or am I challenging myself?

For a while, I began to soothe myself with platitudes about perfection. Nobody can be perfect. You’re already good enough. You don’t have to prove anything. While as a recovering perfectionist, this was all quite necessary to tell my crazy brain to calm it the fuck down with the ridiculous pressure, it also, how do I put this nicely? Well, it also made my work suck balls.

I like the idea that inadequacy is a construct I’ve created in my mind. It feels squishy and comforting to be like, hey, this thing you’re doing to yourself, this whole being unreasonably hard on yourself thing? Yeah, cut that shit out because it’s exhausting and getting you nowhere. I like that idea in theory.

In theory.

In practice, it kind of makes you stop challenging yourself. That pressure, that being hard on yourself? It pushes you. It keeps the carrot of self-acceptance dangling just out of reach enough to keep you moving, to keep you showing up. Perhaps all along self-doubt was a complex part of your motivation — meaning that your motivation was to eradicate the bastard.

See, here’s what we all know: perfection, as a construct in our own minds, does not exist. Furthermore, most of us know that whatever our own personal concoction of perfection is also markedly different than another person’s concoction of perfection. Perfection, even as a construct, cannot be quantified or identified. It is simply not the same for everyone. Your idea of perfection is quite different than mine. So, honestly, perfection is just some sense in our own minds of where we’d like to get to. It’s our ultimate vision and desire. Sometimes it’s not, though. Sometimes the image of perfection in your mind is just cruel and serves only to taunt you. Most times it’s showing you where you want to be.

When that self-doubt rears its ugly head, instead of slathering yourself with squishy platitudes that soothe you, why don’t you check in with yourself? Perfection doesn’t exist, but your own standard for your life does. Usually the little perfectionist monster comes peeping out of the closet when you damn well know you’re not showing the fuck up to your life. It’s telling you, hey, you have potential, you have shit you want to do, so why aren’t you doing it?

If you keep punching that monster down, you miss the lessons, the opportunities. You miss the chance to rise to the level of where you see yourself. It’s certainly easy enough to placate yourself and god knows the internet especially is full of placating people who think the answer to your life can be given to you in a quote on top of a picture of some generic sunset. But fuck, stop placating yourself. Stop giving yourself an out from the life you want. Stop letting people soothe your desire when all you want to do is stand up and shine the fuck out.

Rise to meet that bastard self-doubt in the pit of your stomach. Listen in. Stop shooing it away. Stop thinking that it’s not a message sent to you from you because it most definitely is. You have it in you and you know it. If you keep placating yourself with these tired quotes, then you’ll stay spinning. You won’t show up. You have to be the ultimate decider of whether or not you’re doing your best work, living out the life you have desired. It’s all on you. Listen up. That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach is trying to tell you something.


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