Once again I have gone far longer than I intended without posting. I would say without writing, but I actually have written several posts that never made their way onto my blog. “Why is that, Hailey? Are there backlogged posts that you’re saving for a rainy day?” No, unfortunately this hasn’t been an intentional decision, but it also hasn’t been for lack of attempts. There are quite a few drafts sitting on my computer, but they will likely never see the light of day. “Okay, Hailey, cut to the chase, what are you trying to say?” I am saying that over the past few months the little ultra-perfectionistic voice in the back of my head has gotten the better of me.
“Hailey”, the voice will say, “why are you writing about this? Everyone else who has ever been 20 years old has thought these exact thoughts. You’re contributing nothing.” Or, “Hailey, you can’t even communicate effectively what you’re trying to say, you sound both arrogant and completely inarticulate. I say just hang it up for tonight.” And I do… and I tell myself that I’ll come back to it and rewrite, but the longer I look at it the less it feels worthy of sharing with the world. Obviously, I am trying to combat this. As part of an experiment I am doing for the next few weeks I am requiring myself to write something to share at least once a week.
“Wait, you’re doing an experiment to address your lack of blogposts?” No, my overly self-critical approach to writing is part of a deeper issue; perfectionism and the insecurity that it spawns have become increasingly intrusive temptations in my life over the passed few years (although I have had perfectionistic tendencies for as long as I can remember *cue flashback to 6-year-old Hailey freaking out because she couldn’t draw a photo-realistic portrait of her favorite doll*). Weekly blog posts are only one part of my experiment to address my overly perfectionistic tendencies, the other steps I am taking include:
a) Making space in my day to be creative on a regular basis (an hour at a time at least five days out of the week).
b) Taking time to moisturize my skin at least five days a week (this sounds like a really tiny, mundane thing, but it’s a good step towards self-care and body positivity. Oddly, it’s been the hardest one to stay on top of).
c) Monitoring my negative self-talk, specifically self-deprecating comments in my conversations with others.
“Wow, Hailey, that was a startling display of vulnerability.” You bet it was, thanks for recognizing that, dear reader, have a pretty picture of a sunset.
Like most personality traits perfectionism has its pros as well as its cons. I like it when high expectations encourage me to work hard and do my best, I like it that I have a very clear vision for how things could be improved, and I like it that I don’t settle for things that don’t satisfy or push me. However, what I really want to be addressing right now is finding the balance where I am still a hard worker and a bit of an idealist and reformer (because I think those are integral parts of who I am) but where I can also be gentle with myself when I need to and where my perfectionism doesn’t keep me from doing the things I want to do or living more wholly into who I’m meant to be. I love to write, but nothing I write is ever going to be perfect, and once I accept that I am convinced that writing will be a far more enjoyable and life-affirming process for me. The same could be said for any number aspects of my life and personal view of myself.
It’s been a while since I have actively taken on an experiment like this to help me form new thought patterns, but in the past it has been incredibly helpful. We often assume that we should be able to think ourselves into new behaviors, when it often seems far more effective participate in new behaviors as a method of changing our thought patterns. I highly recommend trying something similar to address an area of your life or your person where you’d like to see growth. Even changing really little things can make a real difference in your outlook and self-perception. A couple of years ago I was struggling with some depression-related low self-esteem, so I decided that I was no longer allowed to negate people’s compliments to me. Obviously this small action didn’t entirely “fix” my issues, but it did force me to actually listen to the kind things people said to me, which made me feel loved and cared for, and eventually, I kicked the habit of negating their compliments.
I am excited (and slightly trepidatious) to share writing with you all on a more regular basis over the next few weeks!