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  • Writer's pictureEphemeral

Perfectionism and Static Friction

It's been a while since I shared something that I wrote. While some of it has to do with my recent endeavours at developing better habits one at a time, and with exciting new prospects at work, it wouldn't be absolutely right if I attributed all my inactivity to having an eventful few months.

The truth is that I had been trying to write something for quite some time; I had in store several drafts with disassociated ideas and paragraphs put down with varying levels of keenness and enthusiasm, but failed to piece them together into something coherent or readable even after trying a few times. Another way to put it would be that I had been writing, without having been able to put together something that I could call a composition.

Recently, someone pointed out that I exhibited a very strong 'need to be correct,' and I was taken aback by the new level of sense my life made all of a sudden. I took some time to reflect on this, and realised that several aspects of my behaviour, including how I treat my work and whether I share it, are governed by (maladaptive) perfectionism.

Theoretically, I love the idea of sharing my work with the world, simply because sharing and relating with others are great human experiences. In reality however, I have believed that my work is not good enough to showcase for as long as I remember. Even in the few times that I have actually liked or been proud of something I've created, I have often felt that I'd rather not have people see it, especially because I wouldn't want them to know that something I've made is imperfect despite all the effort I've put into it.

This year has been a little different in this respect; I started posting my writing here and began sharing my art. I have been learning how to be less scared of things that do not matter much in the long run, and convincing myself to not be as shy at expressing myself in front of others, whether it is through essays, opinions, clothing or art. It has obviously not been as straightforward as it sounds; there are times when I still feel the same level of self-doubt, fear and agitation as I did at my worst. There are times when I feel that whatever I am doing is just not amalgamating or transforming into something desirable - exactly like the many drafts that came before this composition.

For me, this feeling of stasis is adverse not just because it feels bad, but because it elicits a terrible response, or rather non-response, from me, making me feel comfortable in not experiencing my life to the fullest, in a way. While wanting to create perfect things may be good as a loose criterion, it is perhaps one of the most frustrating and incarcerating things to obsess over.

I started writing here because I wanted to move away from creating deliverables and towards writing for leisure, however I often see myself reverting to the former. Even though I find my inclination towards making sense and being correct helpful many times, I recognise that this reversion holds me back, inducing in me a static friction that prevents me from doing things that might make me seem more imperfect than I'd like. The static friction manifests as a number of things in my life, such as not attempting to write or draw because I am afraid of putting in the effort into something that is not going to turn out to be perfect anyway. In such times, it helps when I actively nudge myself a little bit out of my comfort zone, or when people who love and support me do so.

Perfectionism is frustrating and challenging to deal with - however, recognising it has been helping me in the process of overcoming it, and especially so by helping me understand that overcoming anything isn't a necessarily unidirectional process that I need to execute perfectly and in one go.

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