I came to the conclusion a while back ago that I am a strange sort of perfectionist. Not that I do anything perfectly (at all!) but that I often expect perfection out of myself, and even sometimes out of others as well. I won't go into how unrealistic and unfair that is of me... this time. No, today I am thinking about my strange perfectionism, and how I allow it to cripple me. So often I want to make changes in my life, but I am petrified of messing up or not having the desired outcome, so I fear to make that first step.
When I used to work my Dream Job, I would often counsel with students who were struggling beginning to write a paper. So often over the years I heard, "I just don't know where to start!" Perhaps somewhere along their life journeys they heard the absolutely wretched advice to "begin at the beginning... and go on till you come to the end: then stop" (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). My go-to counsel for such a frustration was simply this: Start anywhere! Start in the middle, or even at the end! You can always go back and build around wherever you start. Sometimes it would take a lot of coaxing to get a student to relax enough to start writing a paper in the middle. Wasn't that cheating or somehow not following the rules? In one of my finer moments in teaching (tongue in cheek) I told my students that freewriting was like Outback Steakhouse. No rules. Just write (/tongue in cheek). I saw many students go from frustrated and bound with tight ropes by writer's block to writing fabulous papers.
*Ahem* I give others such very good advice... Why don't I follow it? I allow fear of failure to dictate how much of my life I am really living. I allow fear of getting in over my head to keep me from actually trying to accomplish my goals and desires.