I never really considered myself as a perfectionist growing up. I don’t think I ever once edited or reread a paper I wrote in high school or college. I never spent hours worrying about school or really anything for that matter. I didn’t worry much about anything and everything still managed to work itself out. But I think we’ve all got that inner perfectionist that we just want to shut the f@!# up sometimes.
When I started this blog, I wanted it to be perfect. I spent endless hours Googling “How to grow a food blog,” “How to create a career with food blogging,” etc. I read and read and read my favorite blogs and tried to mimic what they were doing. (Big tip here: don’t compare yourself to others!) I bought a new camera and took a photography class to enhance my skills for my blog. I laid awake at night trying to think of new recipes. I worried about how many people viewed my blog that day or if I got any comments on a post. I did all of these things for the sake of perfecting my blog, which is totally fine, but what’s not fine is that some days I want to quit.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t quit something if your heart isn’t in it or you don’t want to do it anymore. If something’s not right for you, then you should quit. But the reason it’s not fine for me to quit this blog is that I realized I don’t actually want to quit blogging, I want to quit my inner perfectionist. The one who gets upset when I don’t have time to make a blog post for a week. The one who gets angry when my photo isn’t accepted on foodgawker. The one who occasionally thinks, “Just give up, the blog sucks anyway! And PS those brownies you made are disgusting!” (but remember, you are not your thoughts, even if the brownies do suck every once in a while ;)).
If you’re doing something you love and you get those self-sabotaging thoughts, remember: Quitting whatever it is you’re trying to “perfect” would be self-sabotage. It’s the thoughts you need to quit. Quitting the thoughts will allow you to blossom at whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.
So next time you start to think you suck, remember these tips:
1. Take 5 deep breaths. It’s harder than you think to stop in the middle of what you’re doing and take 30 seconds to take 5 deep breaths. But if you do it, it will allow you to gain some clarity.
2. Get in touch with nature. I don’t know about you, but when I take a long walk and literally stop to smell the roses, I realize there is a much deeper meaning in life than trying to be perfect.
After all, “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” -Sensei Ogui
3. Question your motives. Are your self-sabotaging thoughts stemming from a place of love for what you’re doing (and not wanting to mess it up) or a place of inner-resistance. Sometimes the two feelings are hard to distinguish. Do you really want to be doing what you’re doing or are you doing it for someone/something else? If you don’t want to do it, then quit. I’ve quit many things in my life because they just weren’t the right fit for me, and I don’t regret quitting any of them. I will tell you, though, that before I quit anything I have major panic attacks. I think, “oh my gosh, I’m doing the wrong thing.” But I knew deep down that I was doing the right thing, which is why everything has fallen into place afterward, no matter how worried I was about quitting in the first place.
4. Take action. So many of the things I worried about with my blog could have been fixed by just doing it. I wanted to buy a domain for forever before I actually did it. I want a new camera for forever before I actually bought one. If it’s something you’re really passionate about, I say splurge. I never thought I’d have enough money to buy a professional camera, but I did it and I still have enough money to pay the rent this month, so it all worked out. It always works out.
5. Meditate. Perfectionism is a form of anxiety and the best way I’ve found to calm that anxiety is through meditation. Take 10 or more a day to sit with yourself and just be. “I’m just suggesting that when you’re faced with fear and anxiety, don’t medicate. Meditate instead.” -Russell Simmons
6. Take a look at your animals. It’s amazing how much animals can teach us. Do you think your pet wakes up in the morning and starts worrying about what they need to do that day. Doubt it. When I look at my little deaf pup who wants nothing more than to go on a walk, eat, and lay on the couch and my cats who are perfectly content sleeping next to a window all day, it makes me realize that they’re the ones who are doing it right. Life can be so much simpler than we make it.
7. Realize that perfect doesn’t even exist. Considering perfect means making no mistakes or having no flaws, and human means “having good or bad qualities that people usually have,” it is literally not even possible to be perfect, so why the hell do we even try to attain it? Nobody is going to think you’re failing if you stop trying to be perfect. And if they do, that’s their business, not yours.
On a lighter note, I made some amazing vegan cinnamon rolls that are totally worth making right now! The recipe can be found here: Sticky Vegan Cinnamon Rolls.