ambition · community · courage · encouragement · fear · perfectionism · perseverance · self-love · stagnating · trying · vulnerability

Perfection is the enemy of the done.




Well, if I haven’t told you yet, I’ll tell you now: I’m
reading Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly.
She’s a researcher on the topics of shame and vulnerability, and how the first can
keep you from embracing the second, and thereby keep you from “daring
Particularly, I’m (*air quotes*) “enjoying” the part when she’s quoting
from some of her interviewees. This mantra, cribbed from Voltaire, is my favorite so far: “Perfectionism
is the enemy of the done.”
There is always one more thing to do. There is always one
more spot to scrub, one more hair to fix, one more jiggly arm skin to poke, one
more class to take, one more edit to make.
In the pursuit of perfection, nothing is ever finished, and
satisfaction and contentment are perpetually elusive.
My aunt sent me an email a few weeks ago in response to one
of my blogs. She reflected that she always admires my writing, but this one in
particular should be submitted. To the New York Times.
She’s a life-long professor of English, a stellar mind and
woman. And she would be someone to know what she’s talking about.
So, I’ve sat with this idea since she sent me the prod. I
looked up the submission guidelines, and promptly forgot them.
Until I read that quote about perfection and the done. So,
this morning, I printed out the blog, and edited it. Then went back online to
see the guidelines: 1500 words. Mine is currently 700. I need to double
my article!
BUT. It’s out. It’s printed on actual paper. I can carry it
around with me to read and make notes of what parts I’ll focus in on to expand
the essay.
When I decided to finally join a band last year, it was
precisely this perfection that cracked. I was no better or worse than I’d been
for years. I had no more or less experience than I’d had before. What cracked
was my commitment to perfection. “When I practice, then I can play. When I’m
better then I can reach out to them. When I get lessons. When I …”
A few years ago, I put together an art project whose purpose
was entirely to eschew perfection. I
used paint on paper…without sketching it out first. There were no “mistakes,”
even though the lines aren’t perfect. There was no starting over, even though I
wished I could. My entire purpose was to put something down on paper, and to be
done with it. I’d had the idea of this art piece for quite some time, and I was
finally willing to do it imperfectly. And it hangs up on my wall, with lines I still fantasize about perfecting, my idol to “done.”
The same will have to be true for my essay/article. It’s
taken these few weeks to look back at it, because I have those gremlin thoughts
that say, “The NEW YORK TIMES?! Are you out of your MIND?! Who do you think you
are??” That say, What’s the use, it’ll never be used. That say, If you don’t do
it perfectly, you’ll always be a secretary.
Yesterday morning, after my phone encounter with my dad the
day before, I reached for a coffee mug. I dug behind the enormous ones I
usually use, to find a modest sized one with something printed on it.
I HEART ME. (Could be “I heart Maine,” but that works, too!)
In the sprawl of brain chompings and perfectionism. In the
shadow of habits that draw me back into being small or angry or disconnected.
In the face of a choice to let myself be seen, as imperfect but good enough as I am, I reaffirm something preciously true: I
Heart Me. 

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