Once upon a time, I believed in order to begin any sizable project (like this blog), I had to have every step planned out, every contingency mapped, and every possibility considered. My inner perfectionist queen, whom I affectionately dubbed “Queen Fusspot”, would run to and fro exhausting her royal self, making list after list of every possible “what if.” She’d straighten her tarnished crown, whisper in my ear, and demand I prepare for each and every circumstance no matter how remote or removed the probability.
It’s a wonder I began anything at all. And there have been worthy and wanted ventures where I would get to a certain point and stop, because that inner queen furrowed her brow, not satisfied we were adequately prepared for the journey.
I gave her far too much power, and she wielded her authoritarian scepter in ways that stymied my dreams. Her goal was admirable, to keep me safe from the big bad world out there. I don’t fault her efforts, yet her worldview is very limiting indeed.
I’ve let go of much of my perfectionist tendencies, and I’ve given Queen Fusspot a new job. She has great organizational skills and pays close attention to detail, so when I need that, I let her have at it. But – she is no longer the decision maker – most of the time. She is a sneaky one and likes to be in charge, so I do keep an eye out for her.
I’ve given the task of decision making to the Wise Woman part of myself that knows these truths:
- Perfectionism is a big ole myth.
- Everyone doesn’t need to like you or what you do.
- Start now. Just start where you are.
Let’s take a look at each of these.
Perfectionism is a Big Ole Myth
Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be our best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth; it’s a shield.
Well, this quote hit my flabbergasted Queen Fusspot smack dab in the middle of her shield.
There is simply no such thing in this human existence as “perfect”. Perfectionism is paralyzing, and can stop us dead in our tracks. I’ve had to adjust my expectations, which use to be hairsplitting standards, to something a tad more reasonable. Something a bit more achievable by an actual human being such as myself.
I’ve adjusted my expectations to Imperfect Evolution.
I’m an evolving writer, evolving artist, and an evolving coach & teacher on an imperfect journey as an evolving human. The more I do, the more I learn. The more I risk, the more I gain. The more I open myself up to new adventures, the more joy comes into my life.
In contrast, being in a constant state of preparation, a perpetual place of unreadiness may feel like we’re doing something worthwhile as it feeds our inner Queen Fusspot. Yet, this state of I’m-not-quite-ready-just-yet means that we’ll never actually start whatever it is we say we want to do. We are allowing something to hold us back, likely the fear of something. For me, it’s fear of being seen for who I truly am, and fear of failure, both which are based much more in remembering incidents in my personal history than anything happening in the present moment.
It’s really difficult to learn how to do anything, unless we take the risk, and actually start doing it.
Everyone Doesn’t Need to Like You or What You Do
But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.
-Ricky Nelson, Garden Party
What?? I get to please myself?? Wow. What a concept.
I’ve come to the place where I write for myself, paint for myself, and most importantly, live for myself. There are certain folks who will be attracted to the work that I do. Others will be indifferent, and still others will be repelled by my endeavors and who I am. We simply will, or simply won’t connect. All of this is as it should be, and that’s how I find the people who need what I offer, who I can serve, and who want to be in my circle. There are other circles for folks who don’t connect with me to find what they need. It’s a big world out there, there’s something for everyone.
None of us can be all things to all people. To think we can is another big ole myth. Yet, there is a part of me who would like to try.
In a gilded cage in Queen Fusspot’s royal chambers sits my inner chameleon, who likes to shape-shift depending upon present company. This little reptile so desires to be liked, she’ll actually change her appearance, attitude, and what she chooses to say (and not to say) depending on who’s around her. Yet, her existence is a precarious one; she fears she could be found out for who she truly is, if she slips up and says the wrong thing. It’s as if she’s hanging on wire, and at any moment, she could lose her grip and tumble to the ground.
Yet, if I allow this inner chameleon to dictate who I appear to be, people do not have the opportunity to know who I truly am. And that is a loss for them, for me, and for any possibility of a full and honest relationship.
Allowing my true self to shine is one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done.
Start Now. Just Start Where You Are.
The beginning is the most important part of the work.
I don’t believe there is any such thing as having all your ducks in a row. There are too many variables – waves, winds, and the occasional wayward waterfowl. Sure, I’m all for preparation, yet there comes a point where we need to trust that we are equipped to handle whatever comes along, and just start.
And who knows, that wayward duck might come across a section of the pond we may have never seen. What mysteries wait to be discovered by unplanned detours off our chosen route?
Let go of perfect preparedness, and embrace the assurance that you are enough for any journey you may choose.
As I prepare to publish this inaugural blogpost, Queen Fusspot is throwing one heckuva royal tantrum. Her litany of disasters waiting to happen is long.
I close my eyes and see her, crown askew, eyes wide from her fourth cup of coffee…
“What about the newsletter? We haven’t coordinated all the social media channels yet! We were going to do a podcast along with this. Your online gallery isn’t up yet!!! And the grammar, omg, the grammar!! It is simply audacious to start this now!” Her wide-eyed, childlike expression laced with fear stares me down. “Just…just…give it one more day…then we’ll come back and clean everything up, once more. Just one more day. That’s all I ask.”
Oh, Queen Fusspot. I know you all too well. It doesn’t matter, one day or a year of days won’t ever be enough. Today is the day, dear one.
I put my arms around her, give her a big hug, and send her to the royal fainting couch with an adult beverage of her choosing. This is just the beginning of the journey, my sweet Queen. Rest up.
Andrea Christensen is an evolving artist, writer and human. She believes we can create our own magic with the stroke of the paintbrush or the pen, a deep connection with ourselves and others, and most importantly, getting out of our own way. Find her at VoiceOnCanvas.com.