Don't Let Perfectionism Stop You From Starting

I do not think of myself as a perfectionist.  I'm really not.  At least not most of the time.  There are things I do, like cooking or building something, that I do not give two squats about if they're perfect or somewhat messy.  As long as something tastes good or is usable, then it's a win in my book.  But I do realize there is a place in my life that stops me from starting all together if I feel like I will mess it up.  And that's art (or art-related projects).  I have all these ideas for projects I want to make, but if I feel like there is a chance I will mess it up, I just plain don't start it.  I never realized how bad I do this until last night when I started my reading journal.  

See, I bought this gorgeous, square sketchbook to create a reading journal in: 

It was $25, and I absolutely love it!  I normally don't pay that much for a sketchbook, but it's square, which is pretty cool as I'd never even knew square ones existed before.  I got the idea from this YouTube video below from the Plant Based Bride.  And in that video, she makes GORGEOUS book journal pages.  And I thought I could do the same.

But as it turns out, mine's a freaking mess!  And the thing is, I knew it would be.  So, it took me reading at least six books before I even started making my pages.

And last night I started.  I had already made a "Bookopoly" board for my journal and glued it in months ago, and it was also a total freaking mess.  Which is what stopped me from going any further.  I knew if something starts bad, most likely it will keep being bad until I find my groove.  But I didn't want to go through that "crappy" phase to get to the point to find out what works for me.  I just wanted it to look good to begin with.  Because when something looks good, it motivates me to do more.  

But here's the thing: 

Because I am sure that YouTuber didn't start making perfectly beautiful reading journals.  I bet it took her a minute to figure out what her style would be and how she wanted to set it up.  I even bet she has some kind of terrible looking pages she created while figuring that out.  All we see on YouTube and other social media pages is the finished product of someone's hard work.  We don't get to see the hard work of figuring it all out.  Granted, I am sure hers never have looked as messy and bad as mine does, but hey, that's my process.  It doesn't matter what anyone else does.  It only matters that I keep doing it so I get better at it.  And I tend to forget the fact that I always get better at whatever I am doing, as long as I don't give up.

Sometimes you have to suck at something really hard before you figure it out.  

My son has extreme issues with this.  He's scared to death to cook meals because he thinks he needs to have every single thing exactly like the recipe in order to not fail.  And if he feels like he's failing, it gives him horrible anxiety and overwhelms him.  The same goes for most projects he works on in life.  He won't do certain things at all because he thinks if he can't do them right, then he might as well not even try.  It's heartbreaking, because being a perfectionist means that you hold yourself to such a high standard that you may never be able to reach it.  And you know this, so you don't even try.  It's not only a type of inner critic, but also a protection mechanism.  Something in your childhood when you were developing your sense of self was disrupted.  Someone or something made you feel like you had to be perfect or else you will be a disappointment or not good enough or just made you feel horribly shameful about yourself.  So, the perfectionist part of you showed up (which is a "manager" in IFS--aka Internal Family Systems, which is a branch of psychology) in order to stop you from feeling that shame.  "Be perfect or don't even try" is her motto.  And that perfectionist part of some people's personalities live by that motto.  I know I do when it comes to art.  

The funny part about art is that all artists make shitty work.  Tam Laporte from says she will go through spurts of shitty artwork still to this day.  And quite regularly, I might add.  When I heard this, I felt less like a failure, because I could never understand why so much of my art can look normal and good, but then I have these horrible pieces that made me wonder if I was ever any good at all.  And those pieces always pulled me towards quitting or giving up on whatever it was I was working on.  But the thing is, making mistakes is normal.  It's how our brain learns and grows.  It's how we get better.  

So, I support my son and help him through his perfectionism and remind him of this.  But I need to remind myself of the same thing.  And to honor the shitty stage my book journal is in right now, because eventually, it will bring me to the good stuff: the pretty pages I won't mind showing online to others.  

For now, I will just keep reading books and making terrible reading journal pages filled with messy handwriting and stupid pens until I figure it out.  I won't wait until I think it will look perfect for me to record the books I read in it.  Does it feel like I wasted $25?  A little bit.  But who cares?  The money is already spent.  Now, it's just a blank book waiting to be filled up.  Even if it is with my messy crap.  

For now.  

UPDATE:  I worked more on my reading journal today and I found that it's fixable and now I am not hating it so much.  Yes, I wish it all looked the same, but I am okay with how it's turning out.  If I had only started it back when I read that first book this year, I would remember what it was about LOL  Now, we're 8 months into the year and I have no idea what happened in it.  Oops!  Oh well :)  Though I did realize something: my journal would never look like the one in the video, because that's not my style.  I am a sticker person.  So, I ordered a load of book lover's stickers to use in it instead.  I can't wait until they get here!

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