I couldn’t find the time yesterday to write a post, not the post that I wanted to write anyway. When I did put one up, I thought: it’s not good enough, but it will have to do.
If, like me, you tumble and wrestle with the idea of not being good enough then you might notice one of two things happening in your life. 1) You think, it’s not good enough so I’m not going to do it at all or 2) You think, it’s not good enough, it has to be perfect, so I won’t stop until it is perfect. If it’s the latter, you are probably making your own life – and everyone else’s around you – a misery in the relentless pursuit of an impossible ideal. If it’s the former, it’s much more serious. You are rejecting life itself.
Who says it’s not good enough anyway? Cue trumpet sounds: yes, it’s that crotchety old critic in your head, there to cheer you on as usual – not, as Mike Myers would say in Wayne’s World, a highly intellectual film I watched as a teenager. At this stage, I’ve started about twenty novels, I’ve got endless poems scribbled here and there, and bits of random prose scattered across countless notebooks. All seeds that weren’t watered. Nothing has been finished because my ‘you are not good enough’ voice has been deafening these last few decades. I allowed it to paralyze me for years. I’m middle-aged now, and even writing this I’m thinking – no! No you are not! But yes, yes I am, I am middle-aged now and I have left it this long to turn around and fight back with great force against the ‘not good enough’ mantra.
Lately, I’ve understood that there is no such thing as not being good enough. It’s just a ghost, a kind of mental haunting, utter nonsense thrown up from some stuck, dodgy part of your brain. I fell foul of perfectionist problem number one. It was my downfall, in many areas of my life. I’m not good enough, so I’m not going to try. What that really meant was that I was terrified of failing. How brave people are who put their ideas, their creations, out into the world! My perfectionist number one problem was not conscious, but it is now. Perhaps it’s age, or meditation, but it has come sharply into consciousness – so knife-like, in fact, that I can feel the blade of it sliver over me each day.
I have work to do. Creative work, ninja-style. That means I have to kick the butt of that old it’s not good enough pal of mine. It feels urgent because that cranky, toothless critic has kept me in a stupor for almost a quarter of a century. Perfectionism is a kind of evil that can freeze you into a block of ice – and what does it take to make you melt? Honestly, I’m just finding out myself, but it’s happening to me at the moment. I’m melting. I’m dripping. It won’t stop because frankly, telling myself that I’m not good enough is just not fucking good enough anymore.