Putting my ̶b̶e̶s̶t̶ foot forward

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After the rain, Galerie d’Orléans, Paris

Being a perfectionist with anxiety is a difficult combination.  For years I thought procrastination was a bad habit I couldn’t seem to kick.  Recently, though, I have realized it is more of a symptom than a bad habit.  I habitually worried so much about whether I’d truly be able to do my best, and whether that best would be good enough, that I put things off until the fear of complete failure eclipsed the fear of “not good enough.”  Ta-da!  Last minute, there I was.  Stressed and harried, procrastinator extraordinaire.

I am starting to teach myself that sometimes, good enough is just fine.  The old adage of “just do your best” can be problematic for me because I always think I can do it a little better.  Was this my best?  Not quite, I should work harder.  Put more time into it.  Stop being so lazy and do more.  It wouldn’t end.  The negative feedback loop was on repeat, all the time.  So now I am learning that some days I am inspired, and most days I can put forth excellent work.  But if I am having an off day, it is okay.  Putting one foot in front of the other is better than freezing into perfection-induced paralysis, because then I am still making progress.  And if I am having a really bad day, that is okay, too.  We can’t be full speed ahead, all the time, every day.  The world has seasons and rhythms and so do we.  I read an article last month that keeps coming to mind — how winter is a great reminder to give yourself permission to slow down — and I’ve been trying to take that to heart.  Slowing down sometimes is okay.  Stopping to recharge sometimes is not only okay, but necessary.  Huh.  How novel, right?

We can be our own worst critics more often than not.  I seem to be very good at reminding friends and the people I care about to slow down and take good care of themselves, and not very good at treating myself with the same care.  “Treat yourself the way you would a good friend” seems a bit trite, but it is more difficult than one might think!  Would I berate a friend for being too tired at the end of the day to take on an extra project?  Of course not.  Would I call them lazy and tell them to put in more effort when they are already doing good things?  Never.  Perhaps it is time we all give ourselves some gentleness.  Our society seems built on more-better-harder-faster, which can make it difficult.  But the world needs more kindness right now, and starting with oneself can be a quietly revolutionary thing, indeed.

2 thoughts on “Putting my ̶b̶e̶s̶t̶ foot forward”

  1. My favourite book on perfectionism is a little book written for teenagers called what to do when good isn’t good enough. You have some lovely tips here though and kindness is indeed a revolutionary thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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