Hey guys! This topic is something that is very personal to me, considering perfectionism has been something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I’m literally struggling with it right now as I attempt to write this article- I want it to be worded perfectly, I want it to convey the perfect points, I want it to be the perfect mix between witty and serious. Backspace, backspace, backspace. Delete, delete, delete. Before I know it, it’s been thirty minutes and I still haven’t written a complete sentence.
I believe that perfectionism and passion are inherently intertwined- it’s pretty obvious that you deeply care about something if you want it to be the best that it can be. Don’t get me wrong- there is absolutely nothing wrong with striving to do your best. I absolutely think that you should try your hardest in the situations put in front of you. Whether it’s a paper assigned in a class, a job you’re currently at, a chore that your parents have given you— you should do it to the best of your ability. There is, however, a difference between the best of your ability and needing to do the task perfectly..
Passion strives to create.
Passion encourages growth.
Passion pushes you forward.
Perfectionism inhibits experimentation.
Perfectionism leads to procrastination.
Perfectionism paralyzes you with fear.
I’m passionate about design, style and pretty much any form of communication. I’m also passionate about sharing my experiences with my viewers. My struggle with perfectionism literally stops me from doing the things that I love most: creating. expressing. communicating. Instead of focusing on what I’m doing, I’m focusing on how I’m doing it. Perfectionism ultimately changes passion into process and it causes you to spend more time thinking about how the end result will look vs why the end the result matters. I almost didn’t film my break up story because I was so concerned with wording it just right! I finally woke up and said to myself ‘the point isn’t that you deliver a beautiful speech. The point is that this experience could help somebody else’.
Ultimately what I’ve learned is that perfectionism is rooted in pride.
You might be thinking right now- hold on Carly. Pride? I’m sitting here feeling bad about myself and you’re telling me that is pride?!
Perfectionism turns joy from passion into a negative focus on yourself [It’s still selfish, regardless if the focus is positive or negative].
We start to worry about how others will view our work, if it will be good enough, if WE will be good enough. Often times we end up completely avoiding what we want to do, because we’d rather not do it at all if it can’t be ‘perfect’ -which, by the way, is borderline crazy. ‘If I can’t do it perfectly, I won’t do it at all!’ right- because 0% is so much better than 85%. [I’m no math whiz, but I think it’s pretty obvious which one is actually better there].
But that’s the lie that perfectionism tells you: that it can be perfect, and it shouldn’t exist if it isn’t. The title of this article is ‘how to not be perfect’, and that’s because I want to break the very lie that perfectionism tries to tell you:
This can be perfect.
This should be perfect.
I don’t want people associating me with something that is not perfect.
You are not perfect.
You can not be perfect.
You will never be perfect.
And that should be so freeing!
Once you realize that there is no perfect moment, or perfect way to do things you are free to truly start embracing your passions and living your life free of an impossible standard. Your desire to do what you love well should not stop you from doing what you love completely. If you feel fear and perfectionism beginning to creep in, ask yourself these questions:
1. What do I need to do this task well?
If it’s a paper for school, do you need to outline the points you’ll be writing? It’s always best to organize and write down what you already have. Jot down the points you want to make. Begin to fill in what thoughts you’ll use to support this argument. You can edit something that is there, but you absolutely can’t hand in a blank page.
If you want to film videos, do you have a camera that works? Are you filming somewhere with decent lighting?
You might think that you can’t start a youtube channel without professional equipment, or your waiting for the ‘right time’. You will miss out on so much if you wait for the ‘perfect time’ to start your channel! I have had my channel for 5+ years, and I can tell you that I haven’t felt that any of my videos have been perfect. Some days I want to go and delete all of my videos. You won’t grow into who you want to be unless you start with who you are.
2. What is holding you back?
Are there some materials you need that you don’t have? Are you not as prepared as you should be? ..or are you just afraid of the result? Are you afraid of failing?
If the answer to the question is fear over how it will look to others:
Take a deep breath.
Remind yourself that you can’t be perfect.
Take baby steps.
Because something is always better than nothing.
Photography: Tomas Martinsen
Have you ever struggled with perfectionism? Is it holding you back from something you’ve always dreamed of? Let me know in the comments if this is something you’ve dealt with too!
Side note: I initially wrote this post a few weeks back for another site I was contributing to. I wrote a series of personal articles there that I thought I would share here with all of you directly. If you enjoy these articles / want me to film videos on these subjects, let me know!