The Fear of Potentiality

I am sitting in front of my screen. The page is white. It is cold. There is endless opportunity to impress, and there is endless opportunity to fail. What I put on this screen, others will judge me for. They will look, critique, and create a thought of who I am. The screen remains white.

I begin thinking of this color: white. It is the presence of all colors, yet we refer to a white page as a blank page; isn’t that ironic? If we, as English speaking folk, are so clever as to make synonymous a word that represents everything and a term that means nothing, should I even care about what those who may glance upon this page feel? It seems as though I should, at the least, not care much of what the English speakers feel. Blank page…pfff.

Many of the times the fear of the blank page can be so intimidating we are fearful of making that first keystroke or putting an ink mark on the beautiful white sheet. Many times we lose opportunities to express ourselves not due to the fear of being judged, as you might suppose, rather, due to the fear of being vulnerable by putting in full effort. As it goes, it’s quite easy to “not care” and put in effort less so long as we didn’t give it our best shot.

We save ourselves, our egos, the warm feeling that we are good enough by not giving it our best. Once we put in maximum effort, we instantly become vulnerable. We are open to criticism, and knowing that we put our first foot forward makes each critique that much more personal. With so much at stake, why should we ever try our best? The answer is simple, but it is difficult. You do your best because that’s what you’re called to do.

In learning about different subjects, I have heard the phrase, “Perfection is the progress.” Simple. Safe. I, on the contrary, feel that this aphorism needs a bit of adjusting. As with many concepts in life, people unknowingly align themselves to ideologies based on what they think they are following, yet, in reality, they are not correct. As the quote goes, many people may be out there striving to be less than perfect because, well, perfection is unachievable, right? Some out there might misconstrue the saying for something more along the lines of, “Create (Do) something and get it done.” These are not my kind of people.

The people who I relate to begin projects, they begin writing, they have ideas, and they follow those up until the point that they see the end, and they pause. Now, in many cases, this is an extended pause — years, perhaps — but it is, nonetheless, a pause and not a stop. They never stop. They revisit that essay draft years down the road just to tweak the first line. They go back into the garage and pull the cover off of that half built project and add some details that they weren’t even aware when they began the project. They pause. They never stop. They pursue perfection because anything less is unacceptable. And, best of all, the gauge of whether something is “perfect” or not is solely theirs; often this gauge is the most critical of all.

These people put pen to paper fearlessly, knowing that their harshest critic lies within themselves. When we learn to overcome ourselves, when we realize that, to us, anything short of perfection is just a rough draft, that is when perfection comes within reach.