For most of my life, I didn’t think I was a perfectionist. I saw other people around me struggling to start anything for fear of doing it wrong. I wasn’t like that. I was achieving shit and conquering goals.
I didn’t realise that there wasn’t much difference between me and those I judged as struggling perfectionists. We both played it safe. We both wouldn’t start something unless we were confident we were going to be really good at doing it.
I just happened to be good at lots of things, the “right” things, the things that create a well-paid job and a more-than-comfortable lifestyle. I could masquerade as someone getting it done without actually having to stretch myself.
I call this way of operating functional perfectionism. It doesn’t manifest in such a way that is obvious to the outside world, but it has an effect on your life nonetheless. You live smaller than you need to, within a comfy comfort zone.
The thing that made me realise just how uncomfortable I am with being “out of my depth” was becoming a parent. I didn’t know what I was doing, and I hated it. It made me question how much I have avoided feeling inept at various things in the past.
This year, I’ve been trying to break out of functional perfectionism. One way I’ve been doing that is forcing myself to publish notes in this garden regularly and being okay with the notes not being perfect or even any good. The more I do it, the easier it gets. I realise now that lowering my bar is the only way I can step over it and begin making progress towards writing well.