“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali
Perfectionism. An insidious condition. One built on fear, fear hiding behind what many would consider a positive attribute. But its not. It is fear. Fear of not being enough. Right now. The man writing these words. Concerned with outwardly appearances, making everything shiny and bright. A magicians slight of hand taking your eyes away from the truth.
That there is just a scared, worried he is not enough man at the other end of it.
When I clean my house, I make it shine, smell good. A place for everything and everything in its place. The superficial taken care of. The illusion set. When I get ready to leave my house, my hair perfectly parted, my clothes wrinkle free, my shoes shined. The outside looking as perfect as I can make it.
If one were to open the closets in my home they would see a haphazard piling of crap. Stacked high and messy. Open my drawers and they are a mess. Make the outside pretty.
If you were to open me up, it would be the same. Crap piled high. Only the crap is fear, unworthiness, insecurity, and not being enough. All of it tucked neatly away. Hiding behind a smile and nice clothes.
We all put on masks, everybody content to hide behind them. Vulnerability frowned up.
It is rare that we remove the mask. There are only a few people in our lives that we do this with. And those that we do are the ones that truly love us. As we are, and it feels good. To be unburdened by the weight of perfectionism. But somehow we miss that. We don’t see or recognize how good we feel when we are our true selves. When we pull the mask off and just are. We feel great when we are doing it, but the second that person who we can do this with is gone the mask goes back on. The beauty of being myself gone, the weight of perfectionism placed back on the shoulders.
Perfectionism is confining, restrictive. In seeking perfection I shrink my world. Imaginary boundaries placed around me, shrinking over time, becoming more and more restrictive. A set of beliefs growing, and my world as a result, shrinking. A terrible paradox.
Perfectionism is chasing the horizon. It can never be reached. The carrot on the stick, always in view, always out of reach. And the view I have is false. It is an idea and a belief that my mind has manufactured to give me something to work towards, and in turn, a purpose. All of this set on a false set of beliefs and something that can never be achieved.
When I fall short of my essentially impossible requirement of perfection I whip myself. We all do.
I suck. I am bad. I do not deserve the love of others, the kindness of people, the opportunities given or earned.
All because I don’t reach an impossible standard. I set myself up for failure. By setting an unreachable goal I keep my dreams from becoming a reality.
Why would I send myself into an unattainable situation? Time and time again.
Because the mind needs something to achieve, something in the future, a place that is not here. Not this present moment.
Would I do this to someone I love? Could I look them in the face and send them to the wolves?
And yet, I do this to myself. So, I guess I just answered a question I should have asked myself a long time ago.
But it would not have dawned on me to ask this. I would have, and still do, think striving for perfectionism is showing love to myself. Trying so hard to do the best, to make everything as perfect as possible was a demonstration of the love I carry for myself.
Never realizing, until this moment, how false that is. How emotionally abusive to myself I had been.
Seeking and striving for perfectionism has nothing to do with inner growth. Much like my watches and the wine I would order, they were accessories worn on the outside. To impress others and shield what was behind it.
The seeking of perfection is not an internal growth, it as an external shield. A shiny cloak of armor.
Seeking perfection is the easy way out. It doesn’t seem that way when you are doing it. It feels hard, the striving, the work, the pressure. But it’s the easy way out.
Looking within, knowing with all of your heart that you are enough, loving yourself, knowing you are worthy of the things in life you experience. Showing your flaws, admitting you don’t know, that you were wrong. That I was wrong.
This is where the real work is. And this is where true growth is. Perfectionism is cowardly. It is fear, just wrapped in another package.
What could I be so scared of?
Waiting for the ideal time, the ideal situation, the perfect idea, the perfect moment. Waiting for all these is waiting behind the curtain of fear. Pointing to a wonderful excuse of just striving to be the best. Very hard to argue when someone is trying their best.
But the best of what? At what cost to other parts of me?
I want to clean my personal closets. I want take all that I have thrown in there and pour it out. My gut tells me that when I do, whatever fear of embarrassment I may have, will be unfounded.
And the power that was given to all that I stored in there will dissipate. No longer hidden and held onto it will die. Being out in the open will kill it.
Power is given to that which I fear by feeling the need to hide it. In the closet, in the dark, it will grow. Like a fungus.
I am going to clean my closets out. Throw my trash out in the street. My friends will see it, the neighbors will see it. And it doesn’t matter. We all share the same crap, just packaged differently for each of us.
I want to do this, I write it now with conviction. But, talk is cheap. Action is real. This is up to me to move past words and into doing.
Perfectionism is what held me back from publishing the post prior to this one; Choices. I was trying, so hard, to make it perfect. I had this thought in my head of what it should be, the idea it was meant to convey. I could not write what I wanted to write, or what I thought I wanted to write was just not possible within my current set of writing skills.
In regards to the closets in my house, I am leaving them just the way they are. Be careful if you open them.
PS- I could not for the life of me get this post to format correctly. So here it is. Baby step towards moving past perfection.