Two days left to finish this blog post, and I had nothing. Well, to be fair, I had a list twenty topics long, and several paragraphs of half-finished ideas. But nothing worth sharing on RubyGirl. I needed the perfect topic and precise words, and each time I started to write, I hesitated. Why even try? It’s not going to be good enough.
Creativity is halted by the self-critical commentary of perfectionism. (Bad news for me, a perfectionist in the creative field.)
Recently, my perfectionism has finally caught up to me. Sure, my high standards have brought some success, but being a perfectionist is also destructive and confining:
- An unfinished to-do list is a big disappointment.
- My 3.98 GPA was almost good enough.
- I don’t comment in class unless I’ve composed the perfect response before raising my hand.
- Friends can’t come over if my apartment is a mess.
- Bad hair days are not allowed.
- If I get hired for a new photoshoot, I might say no rather than potentially mess up.
- I make a strict schedule for myself, and any deviation or unexpected change of plans leaves me feeling unproductive and stressed.
- No one will measure up to my standards in dating. (And neither will I.)
- When feeling down or upset, I get frustrated at myself for even having those emotions.
- When faced with failure, I pretend I don’t care anyway.
Yikes. Not a pretty picture.
Certainty. Control. Planning. This is my default mode. Even in addressing my flaws, I want a clear list of what I can improve so I can methodically and rationally make needed changes.
But where is the room for failure, flexibility, and the Atonement?
My friend Lauren is great at facing failure. (That may not sound like a compliment, but it is.) She realized she was stopping herself from doing things she wasn’t immediately perfect at, so she intentionally invites failure and blogs about it. She took up the guitar, tried kickboxing and ballet, moved to New York without a job, then started a new career. It’s all about giving herself permission not to be good at something. She says: “Life is about the mistakes and strange paths. Life is what God has given us so that we can sometimes be wrong and be okay. I need God, and I need the Atonement. Making mistakes is amazing.”
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, “I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. . . . for when I am weak, then I am strong.” He “takes pleasure” in his imperfections! And here I am, beating myself up over dishes in the sink.
The truth is, only Christ is perfect. Our imperfections allow for growth, grace, and faith, and invite God into the small, weak places we keep hidden. And through His power we become strong.
While I’ve unintentionally been pursuing salvation in my own to-do lists, God is writing a better story. Christ is the only way to salvation, not popularity, grades, looks, or accomplishment. Rely on the Atonement, which means more patience, more possibility, more gratitude for the process of becoming.
My life will have twists I can’t control, and I’m sure to fall short. But to try is better than the paralysis caused by writer’s block and fear. Even if this post isn’t “perfect,” it’s good enough. I hope these words might inspire the courage to be imperfect, try new things, and rely on Him. Remember God’s unconditional love for you, and don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Sometimes perfectly acceptable is all we need.
Where is perfectionism or fear of failure holding you back? What could you do to “glory in infirmities,” and allow Christ to make weak things strong?