Next to parenting, writing is the hardest thing I do. I struggle it. I suffer it. It takes me hours and sometimes days to gag out a post.
Most of my idols are prolific writers. Those writers who say they can’t *not* write. I recently read this article about when Gabriel Garcia Marquez was writing (the international classic and my personal #1 desert island read) 100 Years of Solitude, and I swoon over the insanity-level obsessiveness, alcoholism, and poverty it required to write non-stop for eighteen months.
Seriously. I think that sounds romantic.
Then I go take a nap. Or pick up my son from school. Or eat food. Or hang out with my best friends at Dunder Mifflen and play word games on my phone. (I love TV, if you haven’t noticed).
Or, maybe, I work on that post I’ve been writing for a month where I want so badly to unpack and articulate complicated truths for you in the most original and mind-blowing ways. I want to write the post that wins the Pulitzer Prize.
Did I ever tell you about the time my prison psychologist told me I should shoot for somewhere *in between* suicide and the Pulitzer?
But, now and then I spit out some content, maybe a remix of stuff I’ve said before – relevant, but not utterly groundbreaking (to me) – and, inevitably, those are my most popular posts.
Every. Fucking. Time. It’s the one that took me ten minutes that gets all the attention.
The one I slave over just comes out garbled and over-complicated.
And, inevitably, like I’m discovering the goddamned wheel, “OH LOOK WHAT I DISCOVERED, YOU GUYS! OUR CARS CAN ROLL NOW!”, I realize, again, that perfectionism isn’t helpful.
Perfectionism paralyzes talent and keeps other people from getting your good love.
Problematically, part of being a perfectionist is believing you are not a perfectionist.
Did that sentence make sense?
Reword: If you’re a perfectionist you probably don’t think you are.
The primary symptom of perfectionism isn’t the feeling of being perfect, you see.
It’s the feeling of being kinda lame. On account of your infinite imperfections.
And that confusion can keep the most well-meaning of perfectionists among us from actually seeing their nature and finding some peace.
So it would be cool if we made a collective effort here to give this shit up. Perfectionism is a disease of the privileged. It keeps us from speaking up and speaking out. It keeps us from believing our own feelings are valid. It depletes our energy and leaves little left for us to actually be useful. It makes us fragile and we do more harm than good with that fragility. (Looking at you, my fellow white women.)
Want to be seen? Step out.
Want to feel heard? Speak.
Want to be loved? Love.
Want to be a writer? Write.
Want to have a great job? Work.
Want justice? Fight.
Want to be the best? Do your best.
Want to stop suffering? Not gonna happen.
As soon as you stop trying to arrive at The Land of No Discomfort where “if you can dream it you can achieve it” is rumored to live, you might be able to get to the business of living.
Suffering is part of this mortal course, so tiger-up, babe, and do your good thing. The more you do it despite your doubts, the more you will carve out a comfort zone that is a broad highway versus a tightrope. And there is where you and your suffering will have plenty of space to breathe and keep moving.
Sending you all the love, care, respect, and props. You are not alone.
All the love,