I suppose it is appropriate that first ever blog post, is the letter to my inner critic and a frank discussion he and I should have of why I have not blogged before, and it is this quote by Anne Lamott, that got me going.
“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.” ~ Anne Lamott
Letter to my Inner Critic.
Hello my Inner Critic. Yes, You! The power player of my subconscious, invisible yet always present. Spreading the fear and uncertainty, shouting from the back row as rowdy theater guest. There, hidden in the darkness, you seed your doubts, you paralyze the consciousness’s performance and force it to abort, where it should try, press on! You claim perfection as your cause, and safety and protection as rewards for followings your guidance.
You have been good to me, and to give credit due to you, your mastery was welcomed many times. As child, running on the quests of little Mario who hopped through sewers full of lava, collecting stars and mushrooms, and hitting just the perfect combination of “JUMP, W..A..I..T.., now DUCK, ROLL and RUUUUUN… ” to reach his goal, and save the princess in the castle. Perfection served me well then, but those days are gone, and this old pal is not a game. The striving for perfection, which I welcomed, and you so readily delivered, have led us to this day, where I propose we wonder if changed life demands a change in purpose from you my inner critic.
- Who decides when something is perfect? Is perfection black and white? Simply IS or IS NOT, or there is scale of units by which perfection getting measured? I’ve come to think, perfection lies in the eye of the beholder, and therefore it neither IS or ISN’T, it depends! and such a lure impossible to be achieved. It’s value is drawn from the admiration of the crowd, and as identical opinions of members in the random mob, so is the definition of perfection.
- What it is then about perfection that gives it power? Well, I’d say it’s the surroundings one places themselves in, and power of a criticism which often I silently and willingly relinquish to you, there feeding your (my Inner Critic’s) strength to demand perfection in my action inhibiting, the ones you deem unworthy.
- You say, but wait, perfection is what I desire, and therefore it is my quest you carry! You right, why do desire it? Well why not? it is not in our nature to desire admiration of the crowd? There is however, a danger zone, a matter of causality between the greater my desire for approval, for the fan fare, the acceptance and pleasing of the random mob, the stronger you become in your ability to press your cause, apply oppression to the deeds. Would there be benefit, approval, celebration for greatest piece of work which never sees the light of day, because it wasn’t perfect? Would there be a men admired by their sons and daughters for being perfect, and while they debated, tried, and strived to please and be the perfect fathers, they were forever absent in their children’s real lives?
I wonder if that the greatest of these men, those who are admired by the crowds, and celebrated for their deeds, paraded for their thoughts, whose actions so aspire us, have realized the foolishness of your approach, abandoned seeking to be perfect in lieu of seeking just to be.
Perfection irresistible you say? I’d argue that perfection is unattainable, and the pursuit of such will fostered much inaction and turn a place, where deed’s and trials, and ideas thrive and play as kids around the playground, with careless of how the world perceives them, into a bare wasteland. Oh yes, it will be safe and comforting, and perfect, but joyless in such state, where nothing grows, and no one learns and edgy viewpoints will be lured to darker corners and suffocated there by the criticism.
As you can see, the time has come for you to change, evolve, and leave oppression of perfectionism behind, for now your theater’s lights are on, the doors swung open letting in the chaos, and there’ll be havoc, mess, and failures, and learning, broken scenes, and tries, and cry’s, wrong steps, right iterations and blissful joy for having tried to wonder what’s it like to live a life, and just to be.
This post was written as part of the #500WED writing challenge, which I am doing, to learn to write. Please drop a comment below, and let me know your thoughts on my attempt.
Day 1 writing prompt from Cecily Kellogg:
Anne Lamott, one of my favorite authors, once said the following about writing: “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
The goal of this challenge – officially beginning on Monday – is to learn to trust the process enough to write that shitty first draft. Let’s start out by doing this: write a letter to your inner critic, and let them know they are fired. Done. Tell that critic to pack up a box of their stuff and get out. Take the weekend to think this prompt over; good ideas should marinate!