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.



Celebrating a Non-Perfect Christmas

Some days are heart heavy, laden with overwhelming stress. Others, sneak up softly from behind and embrace us with a warm hug, a bit of grace in the calendar of hard times. During this holiday season, the days of subtle grace feel fewer and more spread out. Expectations never quite satisfied leaves with us a salty after taste usually from our tears. We can’t do it all. But we won’t admit it. We allow the mistress of perfectionism to whip us into submission, and she is a bitch of an overload. Yet, we listen to her commands, obey, and loathe ourselves for our failures.

We believe the lie of perfect.

Maybe, it’s just me, but this year, I’m not really into the whole Christmas spirit. I tried. Our Christmas tree, real and smelling of the deep mountain woods, decorated with Hallmark ornaments looked beautiful. Until the its lopsided weight cause it to tumbled down several times. Ornaments broken and another tarnish on a potentially perfect Christmas. Stocking hung by the fireplace, and Christmas lists filled out and delivered to Santa and Grandma and aunts and uncles. Slowly, they complain that the gifts desires cost too much, and Christmas gifts become a competition for children’s affection, the favorite present, the best gift. Another blotch on a perfect Christmas.

But the first Christmas wasn’t perfect either.

But we place such a great weight upon ourselves for a perfect Christmas–perfect tree, perfect Christmas presents, perfect cookies. We choke on our perfect while Christ offers us a respite from our striving. Why do we believe ours should be perfect? Jesus born in a stable, hunted by Herod, and spending his early years in a foreign land. The first Christmas didn’t need to be picture perfect postcard of holiday cheer. It simply needed to take place. And we simply need to remember and celebrate.