Letting go of Perfectionism

The common wisdom for writers is to have a blog to build their audience. However, I’m an introvert, so, I resisted that for a long time. I didn’t want to broadcast my mistakes, failures and inner thoughts. Then I turned 60. Something shifted in my inner world and I felt better about sharing my experiences in a blog. I guess it was a convergence of many different factors that made me say “yes” to being more open.

 

I think I’m like many of you, I tried to look and act cool all the time. I hated it when I made mistakes. As I got older, being perfect didn’t matter as much any more.  For one thing my body didn’t look as perfect. And I’ve been going through a “getting rid of” process. Some of that is getting rid of physical possessions, but most of it is getting rid of old ideas that don’t fit any more. One day I realized that I don’t have to be perfect and neither does my writing. Here’s how it happened.

 

Last semester, I directed the Young Performer’s Edition of The Wizard of Oz. It was a joint project, between the college where I teach part-time and a local Elementary school. I was asked to advise the Music instructor, who’d proposed the project. I soon discovered that I was the expert. I had the Masters degree in theatre and had directed many plays. One day after auditions, I had a big melt down. The project had snowballed. Almost all the teachers and students wanted to be involved in the play. We ended up with 200 plus elementary students in the cast. 

 

Fear gripped me. I was sure I couldn’t do it. The project was too huge and was going to be a failure. After screaming about it to my husband and brother-in-law, my reason returned and I felt a great calm come over me. The parents are going to think it’s great, even if we just have the kids stand there and sing and say the lines. 

 

My little voice was right. The production turned out much better than I thought. The Music Director and I got lots of help. Our Department Chair is a dancer, she took over the choreography for the big dance number.  The teachers, parents, Principal and Superintendent, offered help with making props and costumes and filling acting roles where we needed them. I even found help in unexpected places from people not connected to the school. We devised a way to change from one scene to the next so that the play flowed almost seamlessly. The principal characters, who were a mixture of college and fourth grade students, did a magnificent job. Both nights we had large audiences who gave us nothing but praise for the production.

 

When I asked my husband what he really thought of the production, he said, “Well, I wouldn’t call it theatre, but the kids did a great job and it flowed well.” What a great compliment. It wasn’t perfect, but the parents, students, and teachers thought it was great. Not only that, members of the community not connected to the school in any way came to see it. The play was the talk of the town.

 

After that experience, I realized that nothing I do is going to be perfect. When I finish my novel, it’s not going to be perfect. This blog won’t be perfect. Someone may benefit from my work no matter it’s flaws. All of sudden all those years of worrying about being perfect in everything I did seemed like a waste of time. 

 

Not only that, what I learned was that I wasn’t afraid of messing up. What I was afraid of was being a success. When I put my work on display, people have opinions about it. It’s tough to hear the criticism. Unless, I don’t expect to be perfect.  

 

My philosophy is now this: Do the best I can and then send my work out into the world.  What another person says about my work has nothing to do with me. It has to do with their life situation. Once the work is completed and out in the world, let it go and move on to the next creative project. 

 

I finally understand the meaning of one of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson, from her book A Return to Love. I hope you get it too and share your talents. We need them.

 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

The children and adults in The Wizard of Oz shone, because they wanted to do something big, something they’d never tried before. And their efforts and mine were a big imperfect success.

Please continue the conversation by leaving a comment.

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2 thoughts on “Letting go of Perfectionism

  1. Sue Hannah

    The quote you used reminds me so much of Les Brown. Of all the many stories he has shared, there is one that is my absolute favorite. Les talked about a woman who had wonderful creativity and brilliance who he worked with and supported. Les talked to her husband about what wonderful gifts his wife had and how much his encouragement would mean to her. Her husband said: “But Les, she’s not you. She doesn’t have what it takes to make it.” Les tried, in vain, to help him see the light that shown within his wife. One day this woman surrounded in light saw only darkness. She wasn’t able to connect to the truth of who she was and she had little support besides Les so she took her life. Les speaks very passionately and says: “her words, her beautiful words will never have an ending. The poems, books, and stories can never be finished because SHE was the one who was meant to finish them.” Les’ words speak deeply to my heart. Truly we all have our story and we all have gifts to share. How brave you are Lucinda to share your words! Turning 60 seems to be giving you incredible gifts!

    Like

    1. lucindasagemidgorden

      Sue, That’s both a tragic story and a hopeful story. Tragic, because we don’t see our own light and that makes us blind to the light in others. I think it’s hopeful, because that couple volunteered to show us a sickness that affects most of us. Some people will hear that story and have a big realization. They’ll understand that they are talented and are made of light and they’ll accept their true nature.

      The loss of anyone of us with unexpressed talent hurts us all.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Like

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