When to Let Go

Pull up a chair friends, it’s confession time. Pour a big mug of coffee or tea or whatever happens to be your comforting  beverage of choice. Comfy? Good…

Confession: I’m a perfectionist. One Word

There, I said it. My name is Sarah and I’m a perfectionist.

Now, you would think that being a writer and college English instructor that being a perfectionist would be helpful. Doesn’t every Freshman Comp instructor need to be able to spot a misplaced comma from a mile away? Maybe. Doesn’t a good writer hover over her words to revise, revise, revise because that’s what good writers do? Sure. On the surface, being a perfectionist is really helpful. I get things done right, the first time. No wasting energy re-doing stuff.

The problem with perfectionism isn’t the good things that I can do, but all the great things that it keeps me from doing.

Right now, I’m fighting my perfectionism. I stop, I read, I revise, I question myself. Stuck in this cycle of non-writing because I’m too damn scared to write what I want to say. Maybe, you are one of the lucky few who can just write and not over-think everything., hit publish on your blog post, and walk away. I wish I could be like you. Then, my mind replays who might read this post, what if said person is super mean and nasty and leaves horrible comments or just wants to cyberstalk my blog because said person has nothing better to do than be a cyberbully. Whew, glad I’m not brave enough to hit publish on anything super personal.

Too many times, I confuse bravery with guilt and fear.

This is when perfectionism steals away my creative powers. I stop writing cause it will never be good enough, perfect enough, for goodness sakes, not perfect. But I’m a perfectionist, a habitual over-thinker, make myself feel guilty for doing something that I really love and makes me alive because I haven’t done all the laundry/dishes/mopped the floors/ironed the clothes.

And that’s just what my mind did this morning. 

It brings up all the imperfections, my failings as a writer and creative, and puts it on repeat. All the time. I haven’t been able to turn off the “you’re not perfect and let me show you why” playlist. It’s hard. Right now, I want to delete this whole post because it isn’t focused just a stream of consciousness hot mess. I don’t have a plan for a good call to action, a nice sum up, or even how I beat perfectionism and you can too ending. I can tell you what I do know:

Really, perfectionism is just fear in nice dress.

For me, living out my One Word, Brave, has showed me how I have been living in fear. Fear of what others think of me, of my writing, of whatever the proverbial they feels judgy about…

Maybe, overcoming fear is more about choosing what is good for me in this moment. Like writing a blog post on perfectionism as my laundry needs to be folded and dishes washed and knowing ALL of it will still be there when I’m done writing.

Maybe, I need to learn simply this:

When to let go…

So the dishes are still there, but I’m writing. The laundry will still be there, but I’m creating. The guilt and fear of the imperfect are there, but maybe, I can convince to help out with the dishes and laundry. Or just learn to ignore until after I have chosen what’s best for me.

 

 

On Being Brave: My 2014 One Word

We’re fourteen days into 2014. rose bud

So, this post is a bit late, a poor omen to how the rest of 2014 will be, I hope not. For the past three years or so that I have been blogging, I have chosen a word, a One Word to guide my choices for the year.(Kinda like Frodo and the One Ring but without the creepy Black Riders following me around).

Last year, I chose the word–IGNITE. For parts of 2013, my word represented my choices: I remembered why I loved teaching, why I loved writing. Looking back over 2013, I see how my one word helped me back better choices like submitting my poetry and fiction for publication and attending a writer’s retreat in Michigan. I published a couple of stories, began writing a novel that I still love, overcame my fear of flying (I have a strong hatred for O’Hare), and adopted a kitten (really the kitten has nothing to do with my One Word just throwing it out there in case you wanted to know).

Even with a strong One Word showing for 2013, I didn’t plan on choosing another word for 2014. Until one chose me.

The word niggled at my brain. It found its way into my new favorite song with the title as my word. Now, my 2014 theme song. This word wouldn’t let me go. Despite wanting to focus goals and checking off boxes next to things that I accomplished, this word, this one word kept hounding until I accepted:

My One Word for 2014

Brave

Brave looks like submitting more writing, consistently putting myself out there for both acceptance and rejection.

Brave looks like being bold with my words, saying what I need and want.

Brave looks like fierce honesty coupled with compassion.

Brave looks like blogging consistently, being more open both online and in person.

Brave looks like embracing imperfection and accepting that I can’t be perfect.

So, here’s to a BRAVE 2014.

Maybe, going to Mordor with Frodo would have been a safer idea.