I’ve been reading a book called Restless that has journal prompts woven in throughout the book. It’s been a really good read and has helped me get clearer on my calling and purpose. Something I’ve learned from reading the book and responding to the journal prompts is that so much of my life has been centered on perfectionism and fear. My deep desire to be liked, accepted, constantly affirmed…it’s all because I’m trying to live up to this insanely perfect standard.
The thing is, I think I’ve always known that perfectionism and fear have played a big part in my life, but for some reason I’d never made the connection that my perfectionism is fueled by fear. My shyness around people comes from a fear of being not just rejected, but ridiculed. I don’t think myself funny or cool enough so I withdraw. I’m extroverted and love people, but there’s this conditioning in my head that tells me I have to be perfect in all the ways and it’s kept me from opening myself up.
Case in point: I decided I wanted to start a blog back in 2014 and I didn’t take the first leap until late 2015. I then spent 2016 in the trenches of comparison and confusion and trying to learn my way into success without committing to doing the work.
So as 2017 got closer, I knew I wanted it to be different. I’d never picked a word for the year before. I’d seen it all over Instagram and decided that 2017 would be the year for new things. We were already leaving everything we knew and starting fresh in Sacramento. It felt like the right time to try something new.
I knew the one thing I wanted to do this year was put my blinders on and just go. Just write. Just shoot a video. Just hit publish. Just take the damn photo even though I’m in public and people might be watching. I wanted to ignore the stupid fears I’d listened to most of my life just to see what could happen.
As I sat with these feelings, I decided the word that best described what I wanted to do in 2017 was create.
Create memories with my friends and family.
Create cool stuff on the internet.
Create a warm, welcoming, functional home.
Create healthy habits.
Create space for art and books and travel.
A lot has happened (and not happened) this year already. All of it had left me feeling scattered. And the scattered feelings frustrated me so much. It felt like I was backsliding and February wasn’t even over.
Then randomly, in the middle of a week where overwhelm was setting in once again, I remembered my word.
My ballroom dancing instructor taught me a trick to stop the spins after dancing. She told me to put my index finger out in front of me and to focus in on it until the dizziness went away.
Focusing on my word centered me in a way I didn’t know it could.
Even better, when I got back to creating – when I stopped overthinking, planning, researching, and comparing – I felt amazing. I felt like myself again.
The word create forces me to move past my perfectionism. To do the work I’m called to do despite the fear of rejection, ridicule, or failure. It’s such an important thing to learn and I’m glad I’m finally learning it.