If Your Best Friend Tells You to Jump…

I feel as though I have written this blog post a thousand times—in my dreams, during my commute to work, on scraps of paper that Wallace the Wonderful is now using as a cat-bed. I never get very far in any of these drafts. I mean, how do you start something like this? What do you say? Do I even have anything to say?

It’s a fairly obvious observation, but bloggers offer something to their readers. Maybe it’s a skill, an experience or a perspective. Maybe it’s a passion. Maybe you’re documenting a new journey—as a first-time mother of twins or as a globetrotter on an overseas trip. Whatever it is, bloggers have a vision, a plan, a sense of direction.

The scary truth? I can envision exactly what I want this blog to be, but I’m afraid to embrace it. I’m afraid of making mistakes. I’m afraid of being less than perfect.

Perfectionism has been my constant companion for the last 29 years. I was the kid that made it a life goal to never get my name on the chalkboard for detention and then cried like a baby—in front of all of my classmates—when it did happen. I also wanted to be the perfect student and if that meant spending my summer vacation curled up with a math textbook so I could answer every question correctly in the fall, then so be it. Later, I wanted the perfect body, which meant my frame needed to melt from 169 to 120 pounds. I am sure you can extrapolate what that particular quest for perfection looked like.

In those early days, I thought of perfectionism as a virtue, an attribute that would propel me closer and closer to my dreams. And, in some sense, it did. I never had detention again. My grades were, although less than ideal to me, very good. My goal weight was achieved and maintained for many years. But at what price? As I wrap up this decade of my life, I’ve begun to view perfectionism not as an admirable characteristic but as a hindrance, a roadblock.

Because I am a perfectionist, I’ve missed out on opportunities to learn new skills. Why? Simply put, I might fail. I might *gasp* be less than perfect.

I’ve missed out on some really delectable, once-in-a-lifetime meals because I was afraid of gaining an ounce or two.

I’ve missed out on making memories with incredible people because I was afraid that I wouldn’t fit in perfectly.

Perfectionism has cost me my peace of mind. It has cost me creativity and spontaneity. It has ultimately limited the breadth and depth of my experiences. It has made writing this first blog post a form of torture.

But, knowing any of this, does it make a difference? Can you change a mode of thinking, a way of life? Can “perfect” evolve into the more forgiving and freeing motto of, “I am going to do my best and that will be good enough”?

“Just,” one of my dearest friends instructed, “begin.”

It’s a simple thing to say—only two little words—but that’s what we do, isn’t it? We just begin our days. We just begin diets and books and classes. We begin projects and gardens and new jobs. Each moment, really, we’re beginning something. Even in finishing tasks, we’re on to the next one, starting something new in the subsequent second. Sometimes those beginnings are seamless like finishing the last refrain of “Happy Birthday” and cutting into the cake. Sometimes they’re a bit messier, like the first day of house-training a puppy. But they’re beginnings. They’re imperfect and perfect, important and insignificant, fleeting and yet ever-present.

So, today, I am going to take my friend’s advice. I am going to begin, knowing that this blog isn’t perfect, that I’m not perfect. And that’s okay. Because I am doing my best. And it’s a beginning.

I am beginning.

Now.

As soon as I hit the “update & publish” button.

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