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The Perfect vs. the Placeholder

How often do you not follow through, not write it down, not say it out loud, or not make the commitment, because it’s not perfect. Is it enough to know that there’s a silliness to this way of thinking to stop you from thinking this way?

I can’t go to college and earn a degree unless I know the exact career I’m going to have when I graduate. I don’t know if this guy is Mr. Right so I may not want to continue dating him. I can’t commit to a blog because I don’t know what I’d write about. And what you find is that the perfectionism starts to feel like some horrible brain constipation and your lack of permission to move forward for the sake of perfectionism can become painful. My husband cleverly says, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” And so when I come to write a thought out, my trick is to think of writing anything as a placeholder for the real writing to come.arting in the foyer on Shalavee.com

Writing on the page fills the writing space and commits me to further thinking and writing on the thought I’m expressing. This way, I’m allowed to write total crap. Because now I have permission to come back and replace every word. It is well-known that good writing is all about the editing. So if I shift my expectations to writing crap at first knowing, I have removed it from the place it was lodged in my brain, it’s even more wonderful when I return to read it and it’s not as crappy as I thought.Tunnel on shalavee.com

As for the life “knowing” perfectionism I mentioned, I believe life is much like a curved tunnel. You can see a little in front of you but your knowledge tells you that it goes further. You really can’t see the end and you’ll have to make a choice or two along the way but you know you’re headed for a destination. The college degree is really just a badge of hard work and achievement. Not always about the real major. And the boy who seems perfect when you meet him and then you find our is human and not perfect, he has the ability to make choices too. To go with you to your destination with honor and integrity.

And the blog that was my vehicle for writing and turned out to gift me so many wonderful gifts of friendship? It’s not perfect and I don’t see the bigger picture yet but it’s holding my place until I figure out what I want to be when I’m 49. Knowing is cracked up to be the mental Nirvana. But unforeseeable factors always jump in and can mess up your plan. So I’ll just hold this place in my life with grace and gratitude, do the best I can, and keep prying the perfection expectations from my clammy grasp.

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And, as always, Thanks to you for your visit.

4 Responses to “The Perfect vs. the Placeholder”

  1. Tori says:

    This is so fantastic, Shalagh. My own perfectionism has often led to me stifling my voice, to stopping me from sharing, but I’ve found – much like you said – that if I just make a start (put any random collection of thoughts to the page) that I can often push through and make sense of them in the end. A really great piece, my friend.

    • Shalagh says:

      Tori,
      You and I have lots of thoughts. I’d think we’d drown in them if they weren’t expressed. Thank you so much for coming into my blog and commenting. Because that speaks as much as what you’ve said which is that what I’ve said makes a difference to you. If perfectionism robs us of giving even a tiny glimmer of hope to ourselves or others, then yes to pushing through and seeing how it all comes together in the end.
      Love to you and that handsome boy of yours,
      Shalagh
      Shalagh

  2. Dawn Pearcey says:

    This is perfect reading for me on this Monday morning! I have been wanting to write some things out but keep waiting for that elusive “whole” thought that will make the words flow. Ha – I’ve been waiting a while…with a “clammy grasp”, yes. So now I will begin with placeholders – I love that! Thank you Shalagh.

    • Shalagh says:

      Dawn,
      I feel like the writing out of the feelings can sometimes form better on a page. And then once expelled, these thoughtd can then hold the place for more thoughts to come. There’s more room out than in my husband says. Although he’s referring to something else altogether. Hee hee. I am so very very glad that I helped you perhaps (please use it) give yourself permission to make brain room.
      Love,
      Shalagh

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