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I consider myself an "all-or-nothing girl". The way I describe this is if I can't do it right, perfect or all the way, I don't do it at all. I'm sure you can imagine that this unbridled perfectionism got me nowhere for many years. It's partly the reason why I was over 30 when I finally started pursuing my dream of being a Country Artist.
I must say that the only one who ever held me to such high standards, was myself. And the only one who made the rule of what was "good enough", was me. My own personal perfect prison.
The way my environment helped me out with this world view, is probably something most school children can relate to. The mantra was: "mistakes are bad". It was all about not making mistakes. At all. To hell with what you can learn from them. This view was everywhere, in school, in church, in my family. Which, as an "all-or-nothing girl" wreaks tremendous havoc, as I strive to be absolutely perfect. And what does that even mean? Perfection is subjective, but I viewed it as an absolute, a goal to achieve, and falling miserably short every single time.
Now, don't get me wrong, there is something really valuable to get out of being an "all-or-nothing girl". I got really good at whatever I pursued because I worked so freaking hard on everything. Striving for perfection I wouldn't rest until I had reached an "acceptable" skill level. Again, what was acceptable, was entirely dictated by me.
The flipside to this striving syndrome is that I would give up the most worthy endeavors before I even gave them a try. My music career was one of them. I would asses from the starting line that the road was too hard, my skills too low and my chances of succeeding (whatever that means) too slim and deem it undoable.
This left me very unhappy.
Once I decided against all odds to pursue my dreams, my view on this needed to change. I needed to learn to enjoy the journey because the end-result of "success" was rather blurry. I needed to be ok with where I was at with my skills and play anyway. Because the only way of pursuing what truly makes me happy was to put myself out there and make a million mistakes. "But mistakes are bad!" the "all-or-nothing girl" would exclaim. And so this world view too had to go.
The word "mistakes" is even the wrong word for it. When you want to learn to be on a stage, the only way to learn is to be on a stage, it's the ultimate catch 22. And so you have to be willing to put yourself out there, with all your mishaps and missed chords and do it anyway.
Suddenly it wasn't about being ready, it was about just being. And being ok with however things turned out.
If I could do one thing to help other "all-or-nothing girls" I would remove the word "mistake" from our vocabulary. Or at least have everyone make friends with it. With mistakes not being demonized, we are free to make them and learn from them and possibly throw ourselves into incredible things that we would otherwise deem unachievable. How do you know what's unachievable unless you try?