So here’s the thing. It turns out I’m a perfectionist.
Perhaps this is blindingly obvious to everyone else. But it’s had me fooled. I’m not really a details person, so I assumed that ruled out perfectionism. It just didn’t seem compatible with my life. With children who spend most of the day looking like this…
On Monday afternoon I sent Elvie to nursery with hair that hadn’t been brushed. Since Sunday morning. Like I said, details. Not my strong point.
And yet, it would seem that perfectionism has got its crafty little claws into me. Despite my best efforts, and those of my children.
Several people have pointed out that the blog posts have been a lot less regular lately. Well spotted. Mostly, I’ve told them that I’ve been busy. That is at least partly true. It’s hard to do anything in an evening when it takes two and a half hours to get Joel to sleep. It can be hard to find the energy when we’re in the middle of a very silly fortnight where Wes is away substantially more than he’s at home.
It’s not the whole truth though.
The problem is, I’ve been getting a bit freaked out. I have so many ideas that they create chaos in my head that takes hours to untangle. I’ve always wanted to write, and now I’m writing and people are reading it and they like it. Which should be great. Except that it turns out that succeeding is just as scary as failing. Maybe even more so. After all, if you’ve never succeeded, you’ve got nothing to lose.
This is familiar territory. I was the child at school who would deliberately get the wrong answers in tests, so as not to get full marks. Even in primary school the headteacher had to bribe me with an origami swan so that I would read to him properly, without pretending to struggle.
Back then there was a good reason for blending into the background. Kids are mean, and if you stand out then you’re easier to tread on. I learnt that the hard way.
But now? Now I’m a grown-up. Or at least, I’m 30 and married with two children and a house. Which means that I pass as grown-up pretty easily. I’m not so scared of being trodden on. I’ve given birth to two babies – I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t be scared of anything.
So I’ve been wondering. If I’m not scared of what people will think of me, why am I still terrified of succeeding? So terrified that I’ve been scaling down my writing, almost subconsciously. Knowing that eventually I’ll get to the point where it hardly seems worth doing anymore, and I’ll quietly give up. Convince myself that it was nice while it lasted, and move on to something else.
After a lot of soul searching, I’ve come to this conclusion. I don’t think I deserve to succeed.
Why? Because I’m not perfect. And neither is my blog. Because sometimes I’ll have opinions that people don’t agree with. Or I’ll write a post that makes barely any sense. Or one that’s deeply uninteresting to anyone but me. I won’t write often enough to keep people interested. There will be typos and incorrect grammar. And eventually everyone will realise that I’m just a fraud and stop reading.
I know. It’s depressing. And this is with the medication. Just imagine what it was like in here a few weeks ago.
To be honest though, I’ve had enough. I’m so fed up of tying myself in knots trying to be perfect. Of giving up on things that I love, and that I desperately want to succeed at. I want to at least have tried.
So I’m back. I might not write every day, but that’s ok. I’m not perfect and neither is my life, or my children. Sometimes the chaos of the day will get in the way. Sometimes I’ll be exhausted. Sometimes I’ll need a night to untangle a load of ideas, or go out, or just watch a film on the sofa. But I’m determined to stop being so British and undeserving. To open myself up to the idea that actually, sometimes good things might happen.
That actually, sometimes, I can make good things happen.
Not perfect things. But good things. That’s good enough for me.