My third guest post as part of ‘Our Own Sacred Scared’ and they keep coming, planning on posting 3 a week, this one is from a lovely woman I met just recently and the creator of our visual.
I have spent the last hour trying to write you the perfect article. And I haven’t even started.
And that, friends, is my problem.
Type type type…read….delete…type type type…read…cringe…delete…no no no…type type…sigh. And now I’m starting again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
I don’t suppose the writing is that terrible, but it’s just not perfect. And I need it to be perfect. But why? Well I suppose the motivation straddles between straight-up perfectionism and an uncontrollable desire to always be RIGHT. Not very endearing character traits, I know. The wish to be right all the time is hopefully being sanded down with lots of prayer and (sometimes unsuccessful) attempts at submission…however, perfectionism? Surely that’s a good thing, right? Striving to do a good job? It may seem so, until the insidious, inner voice whispers in my ear, “You will never be good enough”.
This side of me always falls short of my own standards.
Sometimes when this happens (and it happens a lot), I give up entirely, disgusted with my inability to do the job I set out to do—I try to draw, paint, play piano, play guitar, write, sing—do anything that I actually might enjoy—and suddenly a wave of paralytic fear overcomes me. It’s not perfect—what’s the point in even going on?! The voice in my head doesn’t say it as explicitly as that, of course, but that’s the gist, and the outcome is always the same—failure to grow. Failure to try. Failure to live.
I look at other creative people I know and I see such freedom, such joy. I crave what they have—living unhindered, not always thinking about the outcome—just enjoying the gift of creativity that God gave us to brighten this world. But my desire to be perfect (or perhaps perceived as perfect) binds me up in a tightness that coils around my creative expressions. I end up despising my attempts because they taste of rigid, human control.
I’m a bit embarrassed admitting this and I cringe if anyone asks me about it (so please don’t!), but…confession…I love to sing. It brings me exceptional joy and makes me feel closer to God than anything else. However, in my entire adult life, no one has ever properly heard me sing…you see, I know I can hold a tune, but I’m not perfect—not even close. And when I say no one, I mean no one, not not even my husband of 8 years (unless singing Baa Baa Black Sheep to our daughter counts?). I find my lack of perfection in this area almost unbearable at times, I die inside from embarrassment at my lack of awesome. No amount of encouragement from my beloved husband will coax me…the fear mounts, the paralysis takes hold, and the voice in my head says “You’ll make a fool of yourself”. So nothing happens. I deprive myself of that joy, and in turn rob my family of the joy of worshipping together in song (potentially frustrating for my very musically gifted husband). It seems the closer something is to my heart, the more likely my perfectionism will drive it so deep underground that it becomes a nothing, a memory of something I used to love…a regret.
It is so wearying, I am my own worst enemy, and over a long enough timeline it becomes a habit. A pattern of behaviour that was once motivated by a genuine desire to be good enough transforms into a “can’t do” attitude. And behold—a lifetime of passed-over opportunities, all caused by a fear of failure.
As I thought over what I might write for this, a plethora of options presented themselves—but this, ah, this…well this is the thing that hinders me from becoming all the things I ever wanted to be. I think of all the dreams I wish I’d pursued, kept up, developed…most of my reasons for giving up or not properly starting at all end up at the door of perfectionism. Failure is not an option. If I can’t be perfect I have failed.
What a farce—because my heart knows that to not try is to fail, inherently. One thing leads to another. If you’ll only settle for perfect, you’ll likely settle for nothing (and crush your self esteem along the way for all the failed attempts). I’m learning this slowly…hopefully not so slowly to make significant changes…I’ve still life in me yet!
Michelle asked us to submit a photo of ourselves without make-up (if we wear it, which I surely do!). Rather than take a photo today, I am showing you a photo of myself and my daughter, mere hours after she was born. I had been awake for 2 days, I have never been so tired or bedraggled. Nothing about this photo is perfect by my usual standard…this is not a good look for me (hello world!), and yet look, EVERYTHING is perfect…I had brought life into the world, wow! Fearfully and wonderfully made life. I looked at her and there it was…perfection. As only a miracle created by God could be. And in my heart, I know that’s it—He is the perfect One, maker of perfect things. I’d like to get better at remembering that.