3 min read

5. Struggling To Publish and Perfectionism

If it won't get you fired and is 80% good, show your work.
A scary image showing how our perfectionism is not always helping us do our best
Fear and shame, drivers of perfectionism...

I have been struggling to publish lately. I have been posting at least once a week, but looking at what I have in my funnel, I could be posting much more. It is not like I have not put time aside to write and create, as the below image will attest. I simply cannot seem to bring myself to publish things and show my work.

I am once again under the influence of my perfectionism. As Brené Brown puts it:

Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life. Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it's often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction, and life paralysis.

Darn.

Well, I am familiar with the paths of anxiety and depression. I am aware that my perfectionism is not constructive and is a defensive mechanism. Time to go all out with Brené Brown quotes because I like her work and I think she is right on the money here:

Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgment, and blame.

Indeed, I am attempting to avoid doing good-enough quality work to minimize shame, judgement and blame. I am aware of that and yet do not seem to be able to wrestle away from perfectionism. I am stuck in it. A few years back, I delved deep into research papers on attachment theory, vulnerability, perfectionism and shame. First off, they were difficult for me to understand, probably because these topics are deeply unintuitive to me. I lived as a fairly shut-down individual for close to a decade after moving to Canada. My goal in life was to be tough. Being vulnerable and open to imperfection would have sounded like really cool ideas to my teen self, but I would have been much too scared to ever espouse them. Secondly, I became more aware of the mechanics of my hurtful shame-driven perfectionistic behaviours but I still had no answers as to how to correct them.

Some more Brené:

When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver!

Brené Brown is herself a recovering perfectionist. She focuses on being good enough. In theory, I love that. In practice, I hate it. It's deeply uncomfortable to publish things before they have been sitting for weeks and I feel great about them. However, this slow method is not working for me. It gets me to write things I am reasonably content with, but my discontent grows when I realize I do not have the courage to publish which causes me to constantly refine them.

This is where the parable of the pottery class is relevant. One group of students is tasked to create one pot in a month whereas the other group is tasked to create one per day for a month. Which group do you expect to learn the most and do the best? For me, it is the second one, without any hesitations.

There are blogs I plan to write that require more research and review than others. However, I have a couple on the back burner that could reasonably be published after perhaps only one hour of revision. I am here setting the intent to become just good enough. Perfectionism has got to go.

P.S.: I am getting stuck into review cycles with this post, not sure of whether or not it is good enough to publish 🤣! Is there a way out of this?! Time will tell...