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The Perfection Paradox

Ever felt the paralysis of perfection? AKA a creative block? Me three!

Many times I’ve held back on sharing an instagram post, or a blog post or creating comedy or a physical act because I was afraid of being judged as inadequate, to be bad at something PUBLICLY. Eww!

But you know what happens when we do this? We encounter the Perfection Paradox - we avoid taking action towards our goals because:

• we set our standards too high for our current level of experience and effort
• we fear external judgement
• are (unconsciously) comparing ourselves to someone else whom we consider better than us in some way

This makes us live in a world of frustration and unfulfillment (not sure that’s a real word🤔), feeling bitter, jealous of the people who are doing what we wish we could give ourselves permission to do and then seeking instant gratification and eating too many biscuits.

But it doesn't have to be this way!

First of all, reconnect with your WHY. Why do you enjoy doing whatever it is you do? If the answer has anything to do with pleasing or proving something to other people, uh oh. That's often your ego running the show, not your heart, and makes you set unobtainable standards. Instead, honour where you are now. Be content with your crapness. Learn to love your current ability, which is a demonstration of the time and effort you've put in (something about 10,000 hours...) and don't compare your 10,000 hours to someone else's 10,001.

Consider the person you're comparing yourself to. What have they done (or not done) that has given them these skills you perceive make them better than you? If they've dedicated more hours to hone their skills than you have because you've prioritised other things, and THAT'S OK. Acknowledge it, honour it and love yourself for what you're able to do now, with the relative effort you've put in. And remwmber that people love to see the journey, not just the final outcome.

Another fun task is to examine all the ways in which they are not as fabulous as you think they are. Go look through their social media and look for examples of them demonstrating the opposite of the thing you think is so amazing - and remember that social media is a highlight reel and may not show the work they've put in behind the scenes. Sounds bitchy, but it's actually just making them human.

And remember: even megastars make flops. Ever see the movie Cats? Neither did I. Massive flop staring many famous people. I could rest my case there, but I won't. Your favourite singers have made more bad songs than good ones. When was the last time you listened to your favourite singer's album and liked all of the songs? Right. So don't expect everything you make to be a masterpiece.

Here's a weird twist: Natalie Imbruglia (remember her? Australian singer, started life as Beth in Neighbours). She released her hit song, Torn, in 1997. It was her first song and went to number one in many countries. This resounding success resulted in her feeling unable to match the standard, so for years she created nothing, instead she spent the next 5 or so years RE-RECORDING Torn to make her number one song better. Huh??? Sounds insane, right?

So don't be like Natalie. Detach yourself from external judgement, you're never going to please everyone. Even your die-hard fans aren't going to love everything you put out. Do you love everything your heroes put out? And whether someone likes what you create is usually very little to do with you, it's all about them, and their personal tastes and interests.

Turn your insecurities and ‘weaknesses’ into strengths by highlighting them, using them as a way to help or inspire others, NOT HIDING from them. ‘Perfect’ is boring🥱.

This is one thing I’ve learned from the world of cabaret over the last year, where people fully embrace all their weird and wonderful quirks and turn them into brilliant, funny and inspiring pieces. And when things go wrong, it ADDS to the experience.

So feel the cringey fear, do the damn thing and try to ENJOY the messy process. REMIND YOURSELF WHY YOU WANT TO DO THIS and HAVE FUN, bitches.

As an example, I am not the world's greatest singer but if I want to perform, I often need to sing. Yikes. Do something I'm not amazing at in front of an audience? Yuck! Except... instead of trying to fake it, I OWN IT and use it to have an awesome singalong with the audience. We're ALL singing (badly) but we're having a great time and that's what matters.

So whatever creative idea you’re sitting on, let yourself be seen for the real, perfectly imperfect person that you are, rather than trying to pretend to be something or someone you’re not. Take that pressure off yourself. Lemme tell you, it is LIBERATING. And remember, mediocre is better than nothing at all. Like, this article isn't perfect, but hopefully it's good enough to get the point across, even if you didn't enjoy it!

So let’s all take a deep breath and give ourselves permission to do what our hearts are calling out for! There's a book about this - something about Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway...😉Ready? Let’s gooooooo!!

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