Most days I have a quick look at WordPress. I scan through Freshly Pressed to see if anything grabs my attention, then I check the recent blog posts in the writing category. I choose one that attracts me. Last weekend, I read this post: http://lifeofmee.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/i-am-scared-to-write/
Afterwards, I started thinking about why I choose to read one post and not another, what is it that draws me in. With this post, it was the title. I was intrigued. It posed all sorts of questions. Why was the writer scared? What was happening to scare them?
I recognised so many of the feelings being expressed. I always wanted to write but never thought I was good enough. I’d write something, look at it critically, feel embarrassed, destroy it, and give up. Or I’d sit and look at the blank page, pen poised, waiting, waiting, waiting…then sigh, close the notebook, put the pen down.
It wasn’t just writing. There were so many things that I wanted to do but worried that I wouldn’t be able to, that I’d get it wrong, that people would laugh, think me stupid for even trying. Unless things were going to be perfect, that success was guaranteed, I wouldn’t even start. I felt I didn’t have a right to do what seemed to come so naturally to others, because I wasn’t good enough – I wasn’t entitled to do something, not even badly. This went on for years, and years, and years.
That’s the problem. The years go by.
And so the years went by and I wasn’t doing the things I wanted to do, for no other reason than I was scared of not being perfect. Then suddenly it hit me that time was passing, I was getting older and that if I didn’t do these things soon, I might never do them. And I got angry with myself. Very angry, because I was the only one holding me back.
I started writing. I started this blog, fighting against thoughts that I didn’t deserve to have a blog, that I wasn’t good enough. Instead I kept reminding myself that I am just as entitled as the next person. I don’t have to be perfect, I don’t write for others – I write for me. If you choose to read it, that’s OK. If you like it, that’s OK. If you don’t like it, that’s OK. You can agree or disagree because we’re all entitled to our own opinions.
This attitude spread to other areas of my life. I began thinking about all the things I wanted to do but was held back by fear. I made a list – 50@50. I’ve started doing the things I’ve put off doing, and when those horrible little niggling thoughts of “Should I do this? Will I make an idiot of myself? What will other people think of me?” enter my head, I just keep reminding myself that I have a right to give it a go. I make mistakes and I laugh at myself and others laugh with me not at me. I’m honest with people. I say “I’m new to this. Can you help me?” and they do and I make new friends and I have more fun.
Last weekend, I went to a ceroc (modern jive) freestyle evening. I went with two friends I’ve made since I took up ceroc last month. At one point, I danced with a guy who said I was brave to come to a freestyle evening when I’d only just started dancing. The new me hadn’t even considered I was being brave. It was just something I wanted to do so I did it, and I didn’t care that most of the dancers looked like they had a display cabinet full of trophies. I danced, I made mistakes, I got a few steps right, I laughed, I had FUN!
It’s no fun trying to be a perfectionist. Let’s all celebrate imperfectionism. Don’t be scared to live: GO FOR IT!
What are your fears stopping you doing? Could you banish them and give it a go?