Perfection is one of the least talked about enemies in my opinion.
As an aspiring fiction writer, I always think, just one more read through, just one more comma before I let another soul’s eyes touch this short story that needs to be just perfect. When going out for the night, I think one more touch up of lipstick, one more round with the hair curler before I can be seen. Before I have a conversation, just one more imaginary conversation in my head where that person responds exactly how they are supposed to and is bent to my will like a snapped wishbone to do everything I desire by the time I finish my fabulously convincing dialogue.
My stories don’t get read.
My hair and makeup get ruined from over-touching them.
And that conversation… well let’s say my expectations of someone’s will snapping like a wishbone at my command over the English language does not usually go as planned. But the anxiety leading up to it and disappointment when it doesn’t go as planned sure as hell is present. Bummer.
When I was a kid, I was taught in school, “Always do your best that is the best anyone can do.”
Unfortunately, I did not get the memo that my best is not always ‘the’ best.
I figured if I kept working harder and longer that eventually I would have to become the best. It has taken me well into my adulthood to realize was that there are many cases you can become better, but not necessarily the best no matter how much effort you put into it.
I *should* have got this memo when I took physics in High School. Dear god, the tears. The salty, salty high velocity tears. No matter how much effort and time I put into it, I never got a smidgeon better at it nor was it a bit easier. And no, I still do not know what the initial velocity of a vegan pendulum that has dropped from Mars while it ate a cookie at 27 gigga-watts.
Like I said. So many tears.
However, I realize now that doing your best still means you have to let go at some point of the work you are doing. Even if it isn’t perfect.
I had a friend who recently asked me about recording her music since I have recorded and released a couple CDs on my own. She shamed herself by saying that she doesn’t spend enough time on writing songs, practicing, or performing live. After I gave her a referral to someone who could record her music, her shoulders slumped and she said, well I guess I can’t see him till I have done all those other things. Then she went on to profess she didn’t have time to do them, so it was probably a lost cause.
If we were in a cartoon I would have blown into my thumb so my hand grew comically over-sized and smacked her across the face.
I knew those exact feelings and I felt a strong projection of myself on her (that’s the part I wanted to smack out of me). I have been trying to train those exact mindsets out of myself.
Instead, of resorting to physical violence as a tool of enforcement because being charged for assault would really cut into my hanging out with friends time, I gave her my best Clint Eastwood look.
“You have ten minutes a day to sit down a sing a couple songs.” She nodded her head and agreed. Then I said, “Go record anyways. Who cares if it’s perfect? You don’t have let anyone listen to it, hearing it back to yourself and experimenting with your songs matters. Better yet, my recording guy can help give you more ideas if you get stuck so you can grow.” She began to smile as she realized how achievable these activities were and how satisfying they would feel. I literally gave her permission to not do everything all at once or perfectly and her spirits lifted tremendously. In front of my eyes, she texted my guy to set up a time to meet about music.
I think a lot of people don’t allow themselves to grow into their greater selves because we truly believe if we can’t do it perfectly, we shouldn’t complete it. If we can’t do it all, we should do none. This robs us of oodles of ways to grow!
And hey, I can verbally smack people around all day about this, but the truth is it really isn’t easy. Not even for me, as I will publish this semi-edited blog and dear god I’m sure a word has dropped out somewhere in here like an evil ninja.
Despite the nervousness and trepidation, this is a deeply embedded fear I push past Every. Single. Day. And encouraging my friend to push past it created a bio-feedback effect of encouraging myself.
How many times will I edit this published post later in subtle, comma tweaking, sentence re-routing ways? I can’t tell you that. I’d have to kill you. Then I’d come back and tweak your body thirty times to make sure it looked like an accident.
Most days now I force myself to put things out into the universe half-done, half-assed and not to my supremely fantastic set of high standards.
Frankly, it feels gross. Like really yucky. Like oh my god why I did I let that baby fly out into the universe when it wasn’t done baking yet! Sometimes I’ll even try to lure it back into the oven…
On the flip side, I feel more productive and accomplished because I keep doing it. I allow myself to constantly close chapters so my book of accomplishments (as half assed as they can be at times) is growing to be one gargantuan monster. It’ll have a worn out spine but it’ll be leather bound!
There are so many things I have started launching before I felt ready and the unexpected benefit is it’s hard to keep track of all of them. I can’t ruminate too much over the song that I wrote that was an attempt to emulate Taylor Swift’s style that came out sounding worse than Rebecca Black’s ‘It’s Friday’ strangled to death in a goopy bowl of oatmeal, because I wrote 50 more songs and recorded 20 more of varying degrees of quality. If you come over and ask to hear it, I’ll even let you because I am forcing myself to not be ashamed of the steps of my process in anything. But I will leave the room. I don’t want to listen to that again *shudders*.
So hey! You! Go do something! Finish it! Even if it sucks! Then do it again!
If you don’t write your crappy songs, if you don’t try to poison your friends with your terrible cooking, complete your 7.5 minute workout, or your whatever the hell it is you won’t tackle or finish because you are afraid it’s not good enough, then your life will always be this big empty canvas that feels starved of color.
Thewholepieblog is my experiment in the execution of messy ideas and, half-baked and definitely random, and I won’t look back. I hope you do the same.
I would love to hear of any half-baked endeavors you are struggling/succeeding in executing! Comment away my little chefs!