I have a book proposal due to my editor in a week, and until this morning, I didn’t have a completed plot. For days I struggled to get words on the page because my mind was blank. I want this story to be perfect because it wraps up the series I’ve been writing.
But it won’t be perfect. And I need to accept that. My editor may request revisions. Not all of my readers will love the story. It may contain a typo or two. And I have to be okay with that.
I’ve struggled with perfectionism quite a bit in my life. I wanted to be a perfect wife, a perfect mom, a perfect Christian, a perfect writer. But guess what?
Perfectionism isn’t attainable.
After all, whose scale determines when it’s been achieved?
God is the only Perfect One. While I’ll strive to become Christ-like through Godly living, I’ll never achieve His level of greatness. And trying to do so simply sets me up for failure.
As I read that quote, I found myself nodding. Fear of mistakes? Yep. Fear of disappointing others? Oh, yeah. Fear of failure? Absolutely. Fear of success? Yes.
So let’s talk about these fears.
Fear of Making a Mistake
The moment I hit the delete button, a pit opened in my stomach. I accidentally deleted files that someone else needed, and there was no way to retrieve them. My fingers shook as I typed the text to let the other person know what I had done. That was it. I was going to lose my job. But I didn’t. The person was disappointed, sure, but mistakes happen. I wasn’t being malicious about the files. Still, that dread comes back to haunt me every now and then.
Why are we so afraid to make mistakes? Mistakes offer us opportunities for improvements—to make better choices, to express our creativity in new ways. Take time to examine your thought process and think about how you can change your view on mistakes. Try to get to the root of that fear and figure out how you can move forward and still embrace your willingness to try, knowing your attempts will not be perfect.Mistakes offer us opportunities for improvements—to make better choices, to express our creativity in new ways. #creativity #perfectionism #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
Fear of Disappointing Others
Oh, man. I can relate to this one way too well. I’m a people pleaser to the core. I’d say yes to things even if my plate was already full because I didn’t want to let people down. Because if I let people down, they’d hate me, right?
You won’t be able to please everyone. Manage your own expectations about what you want from others. You can’t change how other people react, but you are in control of how you respond to them. The next time you’re faced with a situation where you risk disappointing someone, pause to think it through—will they really be disappointed, or is that your perceived expectation? Do your very best and allow yourself the opportunity to grow through the experience.
Fear of Failure
A year ago, my very generous husband bought me a Cricut Maker. As a creative and a crafter for several decades, this die cutting machine is beautiful, and it can do so much. But I’ve used it only one time. Yep, that’s right—only once in the last year. And that was during the setup process when I cut out the sample project. The machine is quite advanced, and I’m just now learning how to use it…a year later! Why? Because I was so afraid of failing! Of screwing up. Of wasting my time.
One of my close friends is an educator, and she had a blog titled, Risking Failure. She’s younger than I am, but she taught me that failure is okay. More than that, it’s necessary. In one of her first blog posts, she wrote, “Failure means you’re willing to try something new.”
Challenge yourself to try something new knowing you may fail. But that’s okay! Embrace it as you strive to improve and grow in your creative endeavor. Growth happens because you were willing to try…and fail. If you allow your fear of failure to keep you from trying, then your creativity will remain stagnant.
Fear of Success
Months after my debut novel released, it finaled in a major writing contest. My stomach churned and my heart raced as I sat in that banquet hall wearing my little black dress as I awaited the results of my category. When I heard my name, I was so stunned, but somehow I made it to the stage to accept my award and to give my speech. Winning that award was incredible, and it’s one of the cherished moments of my writing journey, but along with that came a different kind of fear of success—a fear of not being able to measure up again. Since that first book, I haven’t finaled in that particular contest again.
Fear of success can be more about the change that happens than the success itself. More responsibility, higher expectations, less privacy, less downtime, more pressure to do it again. And again. Consider your creative pursuit and see if it’s what you really want to do. Then think about what holds you back. Everyone responds to change differently, and sometimes it’s difficult to say how you could respond to success until you’ve achieved it. But that shouldn’t stop you from trying to do what you love.
Don’t allow perfectionism to steal your joy and stifle your creativity. Learning to move past your fears will empower you to embrace the changes and growth that lies ahead. Sure, some of it will be painful—growing pains usually are—but isn’t your creative pursuit worth it?
So make the mistakes, risk displeasing others, embrace failure, and push yourself to succeed. By overcoming your fears, you may find your well of creativity refilling…and you may encourage someone else to reach for their creative dreams.
Your Turn: Does perfectionism kill your creativity? What fears are you facing? What are you doing to overcome them?Don’t allow #perfectionism to steal your joy and stifle your #creativity. Learning to move past your fears will empower you to embrace the changes and growth that lies ahead. #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
I’m linking up with #TellHisStory.