Overcoming the Urge for Perfection

The sea off the Kamakura coast.
A little eye-candy to accompany the post. This is the sea off the Kamakura coast at a time of particularly low tides.

A few weeks back, as I eased out of a week or so of being a blob on the couch, I wrote up a plan. It wasn’t a strict plan, more a guide of what I wanted to be sure to accomplish each day to avoid a return to blobness: Exercise, get outside for a walk, write.

That’s all. I felt afterwards I should have added “study Japanese” to the list, but it probably doesn’t matter that I didn’t, because I didn’t manage to stick to the plan for a single day. I managed to mostly keep my kids to their plan (get outside [mostly playing in the yard], homework [for the eight-year-old], art/music), but I seemed incapable of doing it all, even if “all” didn’t feel like all that much.

I didn’t write at all. In fact, I haven’t written in over a week is my guess. I bombed out of Camp NaNoWriMo in brilliant fashion, signing into the site just twice in April; jobs I thought would be coming in haven’t come in; and every idea I had for this blog got rethought and shot down before I even opened my laptop.

I wanted this blog to be a place to write anything and everything, from silly to serious, ridiculous to, well, everything else. But I’ve hit the perfection wall. Again. I hate the perfection wall. It does absolutely nothing for me, except protect my ever-so-delicate sense of worth.

That’s nice, yeah, but mostly it just keeps me from trying new things. From getting things done. I hate, hate, hate having people see a work-in-progress. And after handing in a final draft, I agonize over mistakes or typos or mistaken facts that even though I’m pretty sure aren’t there, I worry might actually be there. What if, what if, what if??

So what to do? I could try to climb over the wall, just go for it and say “screw you, wall of perfection” as I vault over the top. But alas, on top of this wall of perfection are pride-protection spikes. Very long and pointy ones. Tipped with poison. Thallium, maybe. (← Due South reference) Maybe even some embarrassment-avoiding barbed wire, too.

Imagine I wrote something that some people thought was stupid! A waste of time! As in, “reading that blog post took three minutes of my life that I’m never getting back.” God forbid I embarrass myself or let anyone down.

But—that’s pretty lame. My brain and heart both know that that isn’t the right way to live a life. I also know that’s not the example I want to set for my kids.

So let’s try again. From tomorrow.* Weirdness. Experiments. Stuff that might make you think “I can’t believe I just spent two minutes of my actual life reading that.” (Hopefully not, though.) Let’s all be a bit more creative tomorrow, even if we were plenty creative today.

*”Tomorrow” in coronavirus time is anywhere from actual tomorrow to sometime next week. Ish.

Published by helenkamakura

Helen is a Canadian writer and innkeeper based in Kamakura, Japan, where she lives with her Japanese husband and two children. If money became obsolete, she would happily accept peaches, fresh peas, and sun-warmed cherry tomatoes in exchange for her labour.

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