Daring Greatly: Giving Up Perfectionism for Creativity

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“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

I have been listening to Daring Greatly by Brené Brown over the past few weeks. Brené Brown is famous for her TED Talks on vulnerability and shame, which is how I came to know of her. I previously read her book The Gifts of Imperfection, which had my name all over it!

When I saw that Daring Greatly was available through my library as an audio book, I was ecstatic. I have been listening to her words on shame, vulnerability, scarcity culture, perfectionism, and other topics that affect our ability and willingness to dare greatly over the past few weeks, and was inspired to write about a couple of these topics that I identify with in my own life.

Rather than write one review post on the whole book, I will be writing a short series of Daring Greatly posts inspired by Brené Brown’s research and book of the same name.

The Myth of Perfectionism

I have identified with the term perfectionist for many years. In my younger years, I got it into my head that this was somehow a good thing. Isn’t it better to be a perfectionist than to be a slacker? I don’t think it was any one person who reinforced my belief that being a perfectionist is a good thing. It was a series of reassurances that I received that led me down the path to think that being perfect is something worth aspiring to.

Job interviews were never my forte. In addition to my extreme fear of public speaking, the job interview was another one of my panic-inducing experiences. The one question that I was sure I must plan for was “list your three strengths and three weaknesses.” Even if I totally blanked on the rest of the questions (which I often did), I figured I could at least be somewhat prepared for this one.

“I’m a perfectionist” was one of my deceptive but not so deceptive three weaknesses. The interviewer would kindly remind me that this was not necessarily a bad thing to be. Oh, really?

Our culture so heavily emphasizes the ability to perform tasks perfectly, how could anyone not be affected by the temptations of perfectionism?

Trading In Perfectionist for Good-Enoughist

One of my favorite lines from Daring Greatly is when the author identifies herself as a recovering perfectionist and an aspiring good-enoughist. I have never heard of the term “good-enoughist” but it is definitely something I could get on board with. Actually, being an enoughist period sounds quite appealing. Enough time, enough money, enough sleep, enough omega-3’s, enough….already!

Perfectionism has led me down the dark road of not being good enough far too many times. I often look around at all that other people have accomplished by simply being willing to put themselves out there. Bloggers, authors, artists with Etsy shops, entrepreneurs, You Tubers, the cast of Glee, and small business owners, to name a few. People who followed their passion and figured out a way to make a living at it. What if they had decided not to bother, that the risk of not being accepted was too great?

Sometimes I feel like I haven’t done much of anything in the way of expressing the real me creatively. Fear of being judged and ridiculed for not being right or good enough paralyzing me into inaction. I know I am not alone in this feeling, and I know that I am not completely right that I haven’t done anything worth speaking about.

I also know that living in fear of being the real you is no way to live. Safe, maybe. But what’s so good about being safe if it’s miserable?

Good Enough Creative Projects

Starting my blog was so scary to me, but so worth it. Finally being able to put myself out there, even if to a tiny audience at first, has helped me to feel free. I feel more like the real me when I am working on my blog. And during the rest of my life, I feel more relaxed knowing that I have an ongoing creative project “out there”. It gives me something to get excited about and to dream about.

It was so difficult for me to start my blog because I wanted it to be perfect from day one. I spent about a year trying to get it perfect before even posting the first post (which was so far from perfect, but I had had enough of the perfectionism by then). It wasn’t until after I had been posting for a few months that I started to shape up my blogging style and learn hot to crop and edit images.

Now, with a year of posting under my belt, I am looking forward to getting a designer on board to give me a more polished look, and to learning more and more about SEO and social media. It was not perfectionism that got me through a first year of blogging; it was good-enoughism.

It was saying “Ok, this post is good enough” and hitting the publish button. It was daring greatly, as Brené Brown would say, because daring greatly is all about being willing to put yourself out there, to be vulnerable.

Do you have a creative project that you overcame perfectionism for? We would love to hear about it below! Namaste.

image credit: Thecreativemoment’s Blog, HelloCherieBrené Brown

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