I learned this year that death changes your relationship to fear. On the one hand, losing someone you love unexpectedly can make you feel intensely anxious and controlling. (You don't want to let anyone you love out of your sight...ever again.)
And yet, on the other hand, loss makes you brave as hell. You realise just how precious this life is, how uncertain your time here is, and how the judgements of others that we fear so much matter so little.
Paradoxically, you come to understand how much you have to lose (your beloveds). And you realise how much you have to give, and how little you have to lose (by being brave and generous with your life instead of worrying about whether you're good enough.)
In one of my favourite books on the creative process, Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert wrote, “I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a mink coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it's just terrified. Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more that a deep existential angst that says, again and again, 'I am not good enough and I will never be good enough.”
I'm not afraid of being imperfect any more. I'm not afraid of not being good enough. I'm more afraid of dying with all this goodness stuck inside of me, unused and unshared. When it's my time to go I want to know in my bones that I didn't let fear get in the way of sharing my gifts. I don't want to live a small, perfect life. I want to live a big, brave, imperfect one.
Are you with me? Don't let's waste a moment of this life, my loves!
“It is the insidious virtue to have everything in order before we live that is the greatest thief.” - Mark Nepo
If you’re waiting until your plate isn’t so full or your to-do list is done or your laundry is all folded or your closet is cleaned out or your dishes are done or your hamstrings are more flexible or your mind is more still or your body is slimmer or your poem is more finished or your house is cleaner, or your prototype is more polished… stop.
Stop being a perfectionist. Stop waiting for everything to be in perfect order. Stop waiting for the perfect time. Stop waiting for the clean slate. Stop hiding behind order and control. Stop second-guessing. Stop procrastinating this life you have to live and the goodness there is for you to give and the joy there is for you to have. Stop waiting to be perfect.
And just start. Start now. Just as you are. Just as your life is. Tight hamstrings, busy mind, full schedule, shoestring budget, basketfuls of laundry, sink full of dishes, paintings that could use just one more stroke, poems that could use one less word, ideas that could be more polished, timing that could be better.
F*ck it. Get out here and live.
Start doing the things you’ve been meaning to do. Start writing, start painting, start meditating, start stretching, sign up for the course, send the proposal, book the ticket, post the poem, share the photo, mail the letter, read the book, make time for the friend, have the party, speak up, sing, pack the picnic, lay on your back underneath the stars and laugh while the dishes fill the sink and the laundry sits undone.
Because this is living. Being out here doing life imperfectly.
Perfectionism steals your life. Imperfection lets you do more livin’. So start living like an imperfectionist. Being fully alive looks good on you. And living your life fully means we all get the best of you.