Here's Anne Lamott's FB post today. She is so breathtakingly spot on. This is why I take photos of myself brushing my teeth and half awake. I. Don't. Give. A. Fuck. It's my life -- you don't like it? Move on with your own bad self.
a whole chapter on perfectionism in Bird by Bird, because it is the
great enemy of the writer, and of life, our sweet messy beautiful
screwed up human lives. It is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep
you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and
fight back, and if you're an artist, it will destroy you.
My pastor said last Sunday that if you don't change directions, you are
going to end up where you are headed. Is that okay with you, to end up
still desperately trying to achieve more, and to get the world to
validate your parking ticket, and to get your possibly dead parents to
see how amazing you always were?
This is not going to
happen. They are either so dead, like mine are, or they are insatiable,
or so relieved that you did not end up divorced--or if you did, then
heavily into drugs, like the Woodson girl, or more out of shape than you
are, like Esther's son. It's hopeless, and this is the good news.
Putting those tiny pesky parental voices aside, what about, oh, say, the entire rest of the world?
Do you mind even a little that you are still addicted to
people-pleasing, and are still putting everyone else's needs and laundry
and career ahead of your creative, spiritual life? Giving all your
life force away, to "help" and impress. Well, your help is not helpful,
and falls short.
Look, I struggle with this. I hate to be
criticized. I am just the tiniest bit more sensitive than the average
bear. And yet, I'm a writer, so I periodically put my work out there,
and sometimes like all writers, I get terrible reviews, so personal in
nature that they leave me panting. Even with a Facebook post, like the
last one, do you have any idea what it's like to get 500-plus negative
attacks, on my character, from truly bizarre strangers.
Really, it's not ideal.
Yet, I get to tell my truth. I get to seek meaning and
realization. I get to live fully, wildly, imperfectly. That's why I'm
alive. And all I actually have to offer as a writer, is my version of
life. Every single thing that has happened to me is mine. As I've said
a hundred times, if people wanted me to write more warmly about them,
they should have behaved better
Is it okay with you that you
blow off your writing, or whatever your creative/spiritual calling,
because your priority is to go to the gym or do yoga five days a week?
Would you give us one of those days back, to play or study poetry? To
have an awakening? Have you asked yourself lately, "How alive am I
willing to be?" It's all going very quickly. It's mid-May, for God's
sake. Who knew. I thought it was late February.
time to get serious about joy and fulfillment, work on our books, songs,
dances, gardens. But perfectionism is always lurking nearby, like the
demonic prowling lion in the Old Testament, waiting to pounce. It will
convince you that your work-in-progress is not great, and that you may
never get published. (Wait, forget the prowling satanic lion--your
parents, living or dead, almost just as loudly either way, and your aunt
Beth, and your passive-aggressive friends, whom we all think you should
ditch, are going to ask, "Oh, you're writing again? That's nice. Do
you have an agent?")
Oh my God, what if you wake up some day,
and you're 65, or 75, and you never got your memoir or novel written; or
you didn't go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because
your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy; or
you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that
you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical
silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It's
going to break your heart. Don't let this happen. Repent just means to
change direction--and NOT to be said by someone who is waggling their
forefinger at you. Repentance is a blessing. Pick a new direction, one
you wouldn't mind ending up at, and aim for that. Shoot the moon.
Here's how to break through the perfectionism: make a LOT of mistakes.
Fall on your butt more often. Waste more paper, printing out your
shitty first drafts, and maybe send a check to the Sierra Club.
Celebrate messes--these are where the goods are. Put something on the
calendar that you know you'll be terrible at, like dance lessons, or a
meditation retreat, or boot camp. Find a writing partner, who will help
you with your work, by reading it for you, and telling you the truth
about it, with respect, to help you make it better and better; for whom
you will do the same thing. Find someone who wants to steal his or her
life back, too. Now; today. One wild and crazy thing: wears shorts out
in public if it is hot, even if your legs are milky white or heavy. Go
to a poetry slam. Go to open mike,and read the story you wrote about
the hilariously god-awful family reunion, with a trusted friend, even
though it could be better, and would hurt Uncle Ed's feelings if he read
it, which he isn't going to.
Change his name and hair color--he won't even recognize himself.
At work, you begin to fulfill your artistic destiny. Wow! A reviewer
may hate your style, or newspapers may neglect you, or 500 people may
tell you that you are bitter, delusional and boring.
Let me ask you this: in the big juicy Zorba scheme of things, who fucking cares?