I know you want to get things right.
You want every jot and tittle to be checked and triple-checked. You want your work and your character to be above reproach and criticism. You want everyone to like what you do and to find no fault with it. You want to walk that narrow line that hovers over the deathly pits of imperfection, like a tightrope walker balancing for her life, above the whirlpool of endless details on one side and the lion’s cage of critics on the other with no safety net in sight.
- It is laudable that you want to do well.
- It is good that you have integrity and responsibility.
- And it is not a weakness to have an eye for detail and editing prowess.
But when you have boldly started your walk across the imperfection zone only to become paralyzed in the middle, then, oh then, these are such weaknesses because you have only one choice with two outcomes—you fall.
- If you fall to your right, you are drowned in details.
- If you fall to your left, you are torn apart by critics—the worst of which is, of course, yourself.
If you cannot move backwards or forwards, falling is your only choice, and by doing that you fulfill your worst fear—you are not perfect because you cannot finish the job put before you.
So the next time you find yourself frozen in the middle of a tightrope, do not look right or your fear of drowning in detail will swallow you. Do not look left or your fear of being torn apart by critics will ruin you. Only look ahead to your goal and find one small thing that you can do. Blink your eyes. Shift your weight. Maintain your balance. Refocus on your destination.
And when you can, slide one toe forward—toward your goal. Your foot, miraculously, will follow.
And then do it again.
You may wobble.
You may backpedal.
You may let out a scream of fear from time to time.
But keep your eye on the goal at the other side of the abyss and move toward it.
The walk may not be perfect. The end result may be messy. You will, however, be heading in the right direction. Though this will not impress the whole crowd—or maybe not any of it if they have grown bored and all gone home—you will find you are not at an end but the beginning of another opportunity to walk again, now knowing that you can go on despite being a perfectly imperfect perfectionist.
A Recovering Perfectionist
P.S. Remember, just follow your toe. It knows where to go.
P.S.S. If you find any mistakes in this post, know they were included intentionally.
P.S.S. I couldn’t take it. I fixed some of the mistakes.