The Dangers of Perfectionism

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It took me 4 weeks to publish my first blog.

Granted, in those few weeks I spent a great deal of time learning how to standup a WordPress site, integrate a newsletter subscription form, create a Gravatar, setup Google Analytics, among other beginner blogger tasks.

But don’t get too caught up in my ridiculousness.

It took me 15 minutes to write the blog and about an hour, give or take a few minutes, to complete the laundry list of excuses I detailed above.

The truth is I’m just a hardcore over thinker, a professional worrier, an A+ over analyzer, and an expert perfectionist.

It wasn’t until I talked to my brother that I realized the slippery slope of wasted time and missed opportunities I was headed down.

I was on the phone with him about two weeks ago when I asked him if he had a chance to read the blog I sent him 3 weeks prior. He hemmed and hawed in response and pretended he might have read it but perhaps it had gotten lost in the mix of his inbox (ha!) until eventually he stopped and said, “Wait, you haven’t posted that yet?”

And then the tables turned and it was my turn to hem and haw.

While he dove head first into a harsh lecture on how I’m too afraid to push to submit and to put myself out there, I remember thinking to myself shit, he’s right… something I don’t often admit.

In the 4 weeks between writing the blog and subsequently posting it, I spent a great deal of time deliberating the upsides and downsides of publishing it online. I wondered about how others might perceive me if I were to suddenly throw my fully transparent self into the social media abyss, and about the backlash of friends, family, strangers, gym-goers, work colleagues, and so on and so forth.

Mostly, though, I worried about it being perfect. Because putting something less than perfect out there for the world (or Buffalo, rather) to read was not something I was ready to do. Everything had to be just right, down to the last comma.

I read the blog countless times. I passed it off to a handful of close friends to offer input and, even after receiving their input and making slight revisions, I still managed to find ways to fix things and make it better.

It was an endless cycle of tweaks here and tweaks there. My wheels were spinning round and round.

And therein lies the danger of perfectionism; wasted time, wasted effort, and missed opportunities.

As my dad always says, doing something imperfect today is better than waiting for perfect tomorrow, mostly because “perfect” will never come, but also because the world is moving too quickly to wait for tomorrow, or to wait on a brother, sister or friend to help you along the way.

It took me five minutes to write this. Sure, there’s a chance my high school English teachers will read this and wonder where they went wrong, but I’m trying my best not to achieve perfection and just to be me because, who knows, if my brother hadn’t called BS on me then, I might have still been editing that first blog now rather than writing my second.


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