It’s more than having high standards. Perfectionism is deceptive. It’s a concept people use in a search to do great things. But it’s an impossible goal. It’s a search for utopia, the fountain of youth. The moment you hold any “perfect” as an ideal you have already defeated yourself. You have designed yourself for failure.
Why? How can it be a bad thing to pursue perfection? Surely wanting to create only the highest quality content is not a bad goal. The problem is that is not what perfectionism is. The comparison between high quality and perfection could be made numerically. High quality is ANY number. 500 , 600. You want to strive for a high number. Perfection is a number too… infinity. It’s a concept that only exists as a concept. You can’t actually make it. I mean by even trying to measure it you have to agree that there is no perfect way to measure anything. Once we get to atoms we run into quantum problems. Perfection is actually impossible.
It’s not actually a reason either. We are pattern recognizing beings, we see things and put things together. It doesn’t mean they are correct, it’s just a pattern. Like an optical illusion. You fill in gaps and come to conclusions. Right now I am having perfectionism issues trying to create videos to reach out to people. I tell myself the sound is bad, people won’t like me because I’m ugly, etc etc. I have an idea of what circumstances I would be able to make these videos in, I just need to lose a few more pounds and put up some sound absorbers. These are not untrue things, but they are not the reason I am not making videos. When I really reflect on it… I’m scared. That’s it, I don’t want to because I’m afraid I will experience bad things because of it. It’s my own insecurities about being confirmed a failure that keep me from making videos. It has nothing to do with my equipment or how I look. Boogie comes to mind, a fairly famous youtuber. He is popular and he is very fat. Not holding it against him, I’m saying it’s proof that I’m wrong. I can be listened to and be fat (I’m not even! I lost a lot of weight!). I don’t believe that I am attractive. If someone confirms that then I will be hurt.
All of these things I had to come to through reflection. It’s so automatic for us to overlook these problems and assign the cause to external factors. You think about doing something, you notice a problem and you say “Well I can’t do it because of X”. Your talent does not solve this problem, the same way weight loss does not imbue confidence magically. You need to reflect upon what is happening.
When you want to do something, you begin a series of mental processes. You are biased towards the status quo. Changing how you currently are is the hardest damn thing to do. Perfectionism is a cop out for looking at your deeper problems. If you wanted to make games, the reality is you would be making them. Every moment you put something between you and making games is you making up excuses as to why you can’t change the status quo. You don’t want to make good games. You DON’T want to be a person who makes bad games, because you believe you CAN already create great games. You somehow just haven’t done it yet.
It’s such a problem to paint yourself into a corner like that. “I don’t know what tools to use!”, “I can’t draw!”, “What if I’m not original?”. Checkers is a game, it involves colored circles and squares. It was played and enjoyed for CENTURIES. Tic Tac Toe! Dominoes! How many damn games can you play with a pack of cards? There are a million more games that could be invented with these concepts. People aren’t being stopped from making games, people don’t even know what they are! They are being stopped from discovering this by their own fear of failure. By defining what games are acceptable to make and what ones aren’t people completely shut themselves out from trying any of it. The reason again is actually fear of failure.
If you want to be doing something that you aren’t. You are afraid of failing. If you weren’t afraid of failing and wanted to do it… you would be doing it. The problem that arises is not reflecting on WHY you fail to do the things you want to. Excusing it as perfectionism IS the symptom that you will never make ANYTHING. Let alone anything you will be proud of.
This may seem all very discouraging but take heart! I have great news! If you think you have been doing this then you were just going to keep failing anyways! The ONLY thing to do is pause your desires now and really really reflect. What do you want to do? What are you afraid of that stops you from doing it. If you do not find fear there then you aren’t looking deep enough. This shit is difficult and is the reason that meditation provides clarity. You realize these things absolutely ONLY ONLY from self reflection. Failure is anxiety and makes it hard to relax enough to enable self reflection. Many many people follow this cycle to their grave. Keep yourself so busy you never find how to live. You never do what you desire and you find that in the end, dreams don’t come true.
The one and only way to prevent this is meditation. Really think about what this means, our brains are a series of neurons. So many connections they outnumber the stars. That is an incredible amount of data flow. Meditation is a process of data validation. Our emotions are powerful things but they are filthy lying bastards too. You can feel so strongly about stupid stupid things. Your emotions will betray truth IF you let them. This is how perfectionism keeps you from acting. Your emotions keep you from looking further, it feels weird and uncomfortable. The goal with meditation is to put all external stresses out of your mind. You MUST do this because the moment you try to go digging you are going to want to RUN. Any external influence your mind will use to take you out of the emotional task. You must be patient and seek complete calmness. Otherwise your mind will happily use the stimulus to avoid what you are trying to accomplish.
I have post traumatic stress disorder. I have come to learn that living with the condition from a young age I was tipped off to these concepts. I have been forced to learn to meditate because what I experience is so overwhelming I become paralyzed. Left isolated and confused all I could do was reflect on these things. I believe the only reason I have not followed through with another suicide attempt is due to meditation. If I have any hope in this world it’s that through self analysis and calm emotional awareness I can move forward. I don’t think these concepts are intuitive and I want to try and help others to self reflect more.
The best meditation guide I have found are Chakras. I originally was exposed to them through their mention in Avatar. Which sounds funny I know but they are sneaky about it. They drop in this amazing knowledge bomb while disguising it as entertainment. It’s not their work of course. Chakras are ancient things. Now some of you may be wanting to check our right now. I don’t like “auras” or stuff like that either. I’m not talking about Chakras as a meta physical concept. I’ve come to think of them more as mental debugging. The 7 chakra points are 7 specific emotional issues that humans experience. All the other spiritual stuff I want to leave behind and talk about the concept of these Chakras.
Avatars Guide To Chakras. Some of the stuff is specific to the show… “the avatar state” for example. We could consider the avatar state to be our not encumbered by perfectionism state.
Perfectionism is Fear
The first Chakra is fear. Fear is the root of perfectionism. It is literally being too afraid of failure to proceed with even trying. You place a perfect ideal for your action as a way to excuse your behavior. You must accept that you will fail. There is no other option but failure. You can only proceed by accepting the reality that you will fail and that is OK! You cannot be too afraid to continue if you are going to begin at all!
There is something in your life that makes you afraid of failure. Something along your path has convinced you that failure itself is bad. It’s not, it is the only way to do things. You can only get over this fear by accepting it. It will not go as you plan but you will get there if you begin!
That’s why it’s the first Chakra, you can’t even begin if you are immobilized by fear. DO SOMETHING! DO IT DO IT! JUST DO WHATEVER IT IS YOU WANT. DO IT POORLY! JUST START!
Do you want to make games? Find the simplest thing you can do that is a game. Start with whatever you have available and make a damn game. Do grab some damn rocks and string and make some rules with gameplay. Start making games and you will figure it out. You just need to let go of your fear of producing something you won’t like and accept that you will learn only through failure.
It may feel like you are far from your goal, but you also have never been closer. Imagine, this is the day it actually begins. Today you made your first painting! Today you wrote your first short story. Stop holding yourself back. Reflect on what your fear of failure is and let it go. Our society teaches us to fear failure through grades and other metrics. But being wrong feels exactly like being right. It’s finding out we are wrong that hurts. You must learn to accept the little bit of pain that comes with failure. It does not mean you are bad, even if you are… you are only going to get better by failing a little further next time. You want to be able to tell if the test is wrong, not if you get it wrong on the test.
I want to live in a world where people are not afraid to try something, where they feel they can. I don’t know who you are but if you are reading this I want you to succeed. I want this to be the moment you begin reflecting on what is holding you back. I want to make myself available to anyone who wants to start. email be at firstname.lastname@example.org or put anything infront of @zed-ex.com really. I don’t know what I can do to help but if you don’t know either maybe we can figure it out together.
Perfectionism is not the desire to produce quality. Perfectionism is a rationalization in response to fear. Instead of accepting fear of failure we create reasons for our task to be impossible. Recognize when you are doing this. We all do it at some point. Use meditation to identify the emotional cause of the fear. What are you afraid of confirming to yourself? Realize that it is impossible for one thing to define you. That it’s the culmination of your actions that really matters. By letting fear guide your behavior you are preventing yourself from accomplishing your actual desires. What your culmination of actions will amount to is… not much because you never tried. Failure is not only an option… it’s the only option.