Less than one week until my next big dance competition and my mind is swirling with thoughts about all of the ways I could be better, of all of the things that aren’t yet perfect. My footwork isn’t exact. I lose contact in moments and I’m not sure why. The timing in the quickstep doesn’t come easily.
I know we all spout the familiar phrase, “no one, or nothing is perfect,” but the reality is, deep down, most people still expect that of themselves, and from others. I know I do, and I know that in the past, it has slowed me down from going after my dreams. Even now, after three years of dance competitions, it makes me nervous to think about what isn’t working 100% because that means there is room for error.
I remember my very first dance competition ever. My coach at the time probably thought I was a lunatic when I came up to him right before our first dance and said, “BTW, I’m giving myself permission to screw things up royally.” I needed the allowance to accept whatever happened or else I didn’t think I could do it. If I had to “be perfect” I knew I would probably fail. But if I could just go out there and be the best I could be in “that moment,” I knew I could succeed.
Did I fall on my face? No, but I did make some mistakes. They didn’t kill me and no one made me feel less because of them. What it did produce in me was a desire to try again which is why I am still dancing.
Wanting things to be perfect can really slow us down or stop us completely. For example, I waited over a year to start this blog because I wasn’t sure what its focus would/should be. I wanted a perfect launch for it, but the clarity never came. I began writing it during a snowstorm on a frigid day this past January and I still can’t see the forest for the trees. I don’t know where it, or I, am going with it – but I write for you anyway.
If we really want to pursue a life of passion, we have to allow ourselves the room to flub the whole damn thing. That’s the inevitable rule of risk taking: there are no guarantees. Even an underlying need for perfection can get in the way of what we can do well. Worry, doubt and fear, the three sisters of perfection, all create stress that interferes with being in the flow, the state most conducive to tapping into our inner knowing of who we are and what we can do.
If we can learn to recognize our need for perfection and how it limits us, we might be able to counter it with enough compassion and understanding to allow us to fall and rise up; break apart and put the pieces back together; get lost and find our way back home to where we really belong.
Have you ever survived under less than perfect conditions? How did it affect you?
Have you ever let your need for perfection stop you from going after something you want?