The funniest thing about it is I have been planning this post for weeks, it has been written on my blog schedule and I just keep moving it further back, because I wasn’t sure I had my ideas fully formulated. How ironic is that, I have been delaying writing this post because it is not perfect- perfectionism at it’s finest! I have seen this topic talked about a fair bit across various blogs I follow, and it really got me thinking about how it effects me and my life. I would not say I am a perfectionist, but I definitely am effected by perfectionism to an extent, I’m sure we all are. From school work and grades to random things like baking and journaling, wanting things to be/look perfect can become such a burden. Of course it can benefit us in some ways, as it pushes us to work hard to get the perfect grades and things like that, but when you find yourself rewriting the same page of notes twice just because it doesn’t look neat, it is probably doing more harm than good.
Like I said, there are a lot of posts about being a perfectionist and how it can be harmful, so I wanted to take a slightly different route with this post. Different to my other posts, this post is going to be more of an essay type, as opposed to a tips and tricks type one, but there may still be more more subtle tips within! Let me first give some back story. If I was asked if I was a creative person, I would say no. Despite choosing art gcse ( I thought it would be a relaxing choice haha I was SO wrong and my final gcse grade really showed that) I don’t like art; I can’t draw or paint or make any sort of doodle look remotely good ( by typical standards- more on that later). When I do baking, it never turns out like the picture, my friends and family would probably say I’m fairly bad at baking- lets just say no one would ask me to decorate a cake! So usually I avoid these types of things, because I don’t think I’m good at them- so what’s the point? Even with my bullet journal, I tend to stick to organised, plain spreads, as cool lettering and cute doodles just do not seem to work for me. All this avoiding ‘creative’ outlets seemed quite normal to me, I did not see I was missing out on something. But a week or so ago, that all changed.
That sounded extremely dramatic I promise you it is not that life changing, but I have had a mindset change when it comes to things like that now. I had been feeling quite down and in a rut for a few weeks, and I was desperate to get out of it ( see my post how to get out of a rut for how I did this!) so as I was going down my list of things to make me feel better, I decided to try painting. I got out an old sketchbook that I’d never used, i searched on Pinterest and found some inspo ( my pinterest is https://www.pinterest.co.uk/growingincircles1/_created/ if you were wondering!) and I dug around for my old paints. I found a long youtube video I’d been meaning to watch and I just painted. I had no intention of showing anyone and i made this very clear to myself that it was just something fun to do to get off my phone, no pressure. As expected it did not look great but it was fucking fun! I loved it. I felt so relaxed and it made me so much happier weirdly, making me feel creative and relaxed. I had been avoiding doing ‘creative’ things in my spare time because I wasn’t any good at them, but when I did something out of my comfort zone and put no pressure on myself, I experienced it in a totally different way. I wasn’t trying to make it for anyone else to look at it and think “wow that’s good!” it was purely to relax myself and then never look at again.
In our society we have been conditioned to not do something if we aren’t very good at this. I have not done too much deep thought into this part but my rough guess would be this related to/ a result of capitalism, as we learn from a very young age that you need to find something you are good at, make it your job, make money and all of that, essentially that your talent/strength needs to be profitable and there is no point persuing something you aren’t good at, as you won’t make money from it. This idea isn’t meant to really lead to anything else but, it’s an observation and possibility I found interesting to think about. We are constantly told that we need to find our thing that we are good at, and taught everyone has their ‘thing’. In films it is such a common cliche, the person who has a hidden talent finally shows it to the world and becomes famous. The first thing that sprung to my mind whilst writing that was Demi Levato in Camp Rock when everyone discovers shes amazing at singing, which is funny but you get the idea. I think this whole culture of finding your one talent/ strength really encourages us to ignore everything else we are not good at. You aren’t good at one sport? Move onto the next. I think it is rare that we are encouraged to stick at something we are terribly ‘bad’ at when we show no hope of improvement.
Because of all of this we tend to avoid things we aren’t good at, and see them as not fun. But I think this is really deteremental. I’m not saying if you are bad at football to try and make it your career, but I think by avoiding the things you’re not good at, you could be missing out on an activity that makes you happy. These things you’re avoiding could be your way of winding down, your self care activity! This is how perfectionism can be effecting your self care, as by only doing things you have a chance of being perfect at, you are limiting so many opportunities that could be good for you!
For example with my painting, there is no way I’ll be turning into an artist or dedicating my life to art, or even showing it to people, but I found it really relaxed me and allowed my brain to zone out, but not in an overthinking way. I found the brush strokes theraputic and calming, it distracted me from my problems for a while which was nice. I am not claiming painting is going to make me completely happy, but I’ll definitely be revisiting it when in need of some self care!
I also think this shows up quite a lot for peoples goals. Due to all this perfectionism within our culture, I think the idea of the process stumps quite a few people. For example I’ve always considered starting a youtube channel, but I’m too afraid of the process, of the fact my videos wouldn’t be good at first, of the fact it would take ages to build up a following. Realistically I know everyone that starts a youtube channel has a process of not being perfect or even good at it for a while, but my internal perfectionist struggles with the fact I wouldn’t be perfect straight away. This holds me back in many ways as if I just started it, in a year or so I’d most likely be quite good at it, it might even be one of my hobbies that makes me happy, and potentially even a way to earn money! I’m sure most people have a goal or a dream they’d love to do but their perfectionist gets in the way, the way of something that could become a source of happiness!
I haven’t seen it talked about how perfectionism can get in the way of self care before so I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore, given the fact I managed to put it aside the other day and find something I enjoyed doing. I hope this post has provoked some thoughts, and maybe encourages you to try something you wouldn’t usually. Maybe dancing, singing, drawing, doodling, gymnastics- whatever it is just give it a go because it could turn out to make you happy, and be an activity so separate from the rest of your life, that it could become your escape when you need it.These things don’t have to be seen by any body, you don’t need to feel the outside pressure of things having to be perfect. I think social media and the habit of our lives having to be perfect to be posted has really fed into this as well. Try and combat this feeling and realise so what if you suck at dancing, you don’t have to post it, you can just do it- no body needs to know! Have you got any ideas of things you would want to try even though you aren’t inherently good at them? Let me know in the comments I’d love to hear your takeaways!
Thanks so much for reading,