"The longer you leave it, the better it has to be" and other weird, wrong ideas from my perfectionist brain
Two weeks ago, I caught a nasty cold (thanks, daycare). It didn’t knock me over, but all I could manage was my day job, looking after the kids and feeding everyone. There was no daily writing practice, running or yoga.
When I was on the mend, I decided I should probably get back to writing (and publishing), but I felt an old familiar anxiety around the first thing I wrote and published after my short break. I was examining where it came from when I realised that I was telling myself that the longer I put something off, the better it needs to be when I actually do it.
Why? I don’t know. Maybe it is the subconcsious belief that productivity = self-worth taking the wheel again. Perhaps I was under the impression that taking a break is only okay if you have something “good” to show for it at the end of the break.
Once again, I have to remind myself to get over myself. I’m making a whole bunch of meaning over 2 weeks of not writing. Like, I doubt readers of this blog even noticed it had been that long.
At the same time, I have to have self-compassion for the perfectionist who tells stories like this and others:
- You’ve messed up your running streak for this month, so you may as well just wait until the next one, and you’ll do it “right” then.
- Because you’ve missed yoga for two weeks, your next session must be long to make up for it. Go hard, or don’t bother.
I know she shows up only because she wants to protect me from disappointment. If I do the thing, I’m forced to reckon with the gap between the imagined “perfect” me and the actual me. That is painful, and the perfectionist is trying to save me from that.
Thanks for trying, girl, but I don’t need it.
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