I have an interesting fact to share on the blog today (with a moral to the story): before starting this blog, I had another one. A cooking blog. I started it with more enthusiasm than you can imagine. I adored cooking and sharing my creations with other people, and did so for almost a year, but in that space of time my fun, creative hobby transformed into an ugly monster. And worst of all, I was the one who had let it transform into that ugly beast.
When I started out, I poured my heart into the blog and loved every minute of it. I spent every moment of my free time devising and testing recipes, taking photos, writing posts, promoting the blog and networking with other food bloggers. After a while an Australian company contacted me and asked if I would like to sample some of their products to include in my recipes, so I gratefully accepted and was excited at the prospect of perhaps eventually gaining sponsorship deals with companies, who would pay me to promote their products to the large base of followers I wanted to gain.
Things quickly went south, though. I spent hours obsessing over every little feature of the blog. I would stay up late on weeknights agonising over a post, then would wake up early before work so I could comment or maybe edit just a few more pictures. I would envy other bloggers’ sites and would wish I could be as successful as they were, feeling resentful that I hadn’t made it to their level. I carefully tracked my stats and felt like a failure if they didn’t continue to grow steadily. I wanted it to be perfect, in fact I wanted to be perfect.
As time passed, I grew more and more miserable and would avoid posting but would also put myself down for not posting. Fortunately, though, towards the end of my ex-blog’s life I also happened to be delving into minimalism because I had come across a book called Stuffocation. As I gradually started to simplify my life and get rid of the toxic emotional crap that was lurking in its depths, I realised how unhappy my ‘hobby’ was making me and told myself that enough was enough. I swiftly deleted the Facebook and Instagram pages associated with the blog, and deleted the blog itself. I felt that the only way I could climb out of the negative little hole I had dug myself into was to get rid of the whole thing. I was sad about it but I felt so much better when it was gone, so I didn’t have any regrets.
I had learned my lesson (the hard way). When we let perfectionism control us, we begin spinning in a scary downward spiral. That’s why when I started this blog, I decided to set some firm guidelines for myself about how I would use it so that it could be perfectionism-proofed. Namely:
- No standard post format or topic
- No requirements for how often I post
- No negative self-talk about the blog
- No checking of stats
- No self-censorship
- No creating a lie (to myself or my audience) that I have or will ever have a perfect life
To date, I have abided by the above rules, and I feel this has created such a positive blog experience for me. When I think about the blog, plan posts or write posts, I feel joyful and excited.
I have learnt that perfectionism breeds low self-esteem, jealousy and dissatisfaction. On the other hand, anti-perfectionism promotes self-worth, gratitude and contentment. When we cut ourselves some slack and learn to encourage and congratulate ourselves – no matter what it is we are doing and no matter to what ‘standard’ we are doing it – everything feels better again and we can climb out of the dark abyss of perfectionism.
I’m still in the early stages of my journey towards anti-perfectionism, but even a few wobbly steps in the right direction have made the world of difference. Accepting a compliment. Knowing that what I have is already enough. Cutting the negative self-talk, little by little. Consciously telling myself that my best is good enough. Feeling beautiful, intelligent or successful (or hell, maybe even all three) and not feeling guilty about it. It all starts with baby steps.
Have you ever felt that you ‘ruined’ something for yourself by becoming perfectionistic about it? What kind of boundaries do you set for yourself to avoid perfectionism?