Perfect & Me

I’m sipping (aka gulping) a big cup of tea, eating reheated Dominoes and staring at a blank page.

Ok, ok, I’m not actually eating the pizza anymore … my OCD just won’t allow me to eat greasy food (just about any food) and use my laptop at the same time. I’m going to say it’s a big win that I’m eating pizza and let the grease-phobia slide …

I’ve been wanting to write again for a long while. What starts as a realisation crystallising in my brain or an injustice that burns inside transforms into words bubbling up into my mind almost faster than I can think them. The thoughts and sentences almost make my fingers physically itch to be typing. I hurry through whatever I’m currently doing, race for my phone or laptop … and freeze. Like stalling in an unfamiliar car, my words stutter to a jumpy stop and my brain coughs out whatever piece of writing I had visualised and it dissipates in a cloud of anxiety.

My anxiety has been on the increase in the last 4 or 5 months (whole other story!), but this particular anxiety is nothing new.

What if it’s not perfect?

What if my words are spelled wrong, the sentence structure if off, my phrases are clumsy or I use thew wrong punctuation? What if I just can’t write very well, so I sound confused, my meaning isn’t clear to anyone and it’s just a boring mass or words?

Worst of all, what if I share too much, people brush me off or they don’t understand? What if putting myself and my feelings onto words on a page gets rejected?

This whole perfection thing isn’t exactly new to me. I have quite a pretty pile of insecurities about myself, but the desperate desire to be perfect comes out the strongest in my writing and my craft. I love to scrapbook, journal, paint and generally create things, but so many times I get frustrated by the battle between my urge to create something beautiful and unique and my desperation that it must be perfect.

In my calmer times I could passionately argue that these things aren’t meant to be perfect; that in creativity and personal expression there is no such thing as perfect; that the beauty is in how unique the picture or piece of writing is and how well it expresses the feelings and thoughts of the person creating it; that you should be writing and creating for your own emotional and physical health and enjoyment; that if other people don’t understand or ‘get it’ that’s their problem, not yours.

This is what I would say to someone else who expressed my doubts and fears and I would 100% believe it to be true. When it comes to myself however, it’s an entirely different story. I hold myself to an impossibly high standard and have very little grace or understanding where it comes to my own failings – real or not. Of course, when I do end up with a piece of work that I really think is beautiful and expressed exactly what I was feeling, I then turn around and lecture myself on being proud and feel guilty for thinking what I made or wrote was good … thank you so much to that stupid ‘christian’ value.

The need to create artwork and make pretty things for people gets the upper hand over my fears 2/3rds of the times (if we don’t count the number of tries before I’m satisfied or the amount of swearing that sometimes flies around my desk …) but somehow with writing the anxiety wins a lot more often. Maybe because putting myself into words is a lot more obvious than putting myself into colours and textures. Maybe because my older sister was always ‘the writer’ so anything I did when I was little was held up to her standard. Maybe because being vulnerable is actually harder when you’re sending it out there into the blue and I can’t try to read the expressions on your face or interpret the tone of your voice.

Whatever the reasons are for my need of perfectionism and my worry of other people’s opinions when it comes to my writing, here I am writing anyway. It takes courage every times I share and am honest with someone by my side, and I’ve been doing a lot more of that lately, so I can learn to do it again through words on paper … or on a screen. Whatever.

Here’s to imperfect words and vulnerability that builds people up!