Okay, so as I set up the foundation (or whatever this is) for this new blog (which is an acronym for “boldly looking odd globally”), I think it’s time to talk a bit about the ground rules.
Here’s the ground rules:
There are none.
By which I mean, I reserve the right to be inconsistent. I have now numbered my first 3 posts, but I definitely reserve the right to STOP numbering my posts at any time. Now, this little declaration may seem strange to many people (maybe most people), but please understand something: I have been a life long perfectionist, which means I have the mind-numbing habit of dotting every “I” and crossing every “T,” and obsessing over how my every move will look to others. Strangely enough, this has rarely afforded me the freedom that I am hereby giving myself with this one promise of inconsistency. Yee haw!
Let’s talk about this thing called Perfectionisom. (Whoops, I just misspelled that word, but since we are discussing NOT having to do things perfectly, I decided to leave it as it was… or maybe it’s a subliminal attempt to degrade the foul thing). There’s this myth among us reforming perfectionists that we are trying to do things well. That we are trying to be perfect because we really care about quality, excellence, accomplishment, etc. And though there is usually SOME truth to that, it really does NOT tell the whole story (or much of the story, perhaps?).
A few years back, I learned from a music mentor of mine what perfectionism REALLY is. (Brace yourself) Perfectionism really is being controlled by fear of criticism. Beneath the guise of doing things well is the core belief that disapproval from others is UNACCEPTABLE, and must be avoided at all costs (in reality, disapproval from others is unavoidable, but tell that to a perfectionist!). In other words, perfectionists do not believe they have ANY value outside of approval of others. By the time I heard this, I had won several battles against perfectionism’s tyranny: I had gone through the high school/college age phase of burnout caused by over-studying, over-working, and never being satisfied with myself. I had experienced my grade school days basing my behavior on never being criticized or made fun of. Needless to say, these things REALLY SUCKED. And yet having, survived the madness, I was already committed to finding a new path.
These experiences shaped who I endeavor to be every day. And yet still, I admit that some of the same perfectionist/self-preservation/self-censoring tendencies often still overcome me. I certainly have a bold part of me: the part that is willing to get on stage and rap at a hip hop open mic or surprise my wife in public by performing loves songs I’ve written for her. Yet there’s also the other part of me: the part of me that has largely refused to sell my piano CD (despite have gotten pretty much UNANIMOUSLY positive feedback about) because I’m embarrassed I recorded it on Garageband and didn’t use a click track or quantize it; or the part of me that hid in a cave for about six months last year after having a bad experience with a recording engineer. Or the part of me that believes I have MUCH MUCH MORE to offer the world than it sometimes has felt I have offered it.
Hence, I think this blog is a good chance to say FUCK NO* to that stuff and declare my independence (not for the first time, and maybe not for the last). This is about saying YES to me. It’s about expressing myself ANYWAY. (As I wrote about in my last post). And to do that, I have to address the big, hairy, smelly elephant in the room, which is this: my life long tendency to avoid criticism at all costs.
This tendency, or shall we say, this leach-y, needy, pervasive, stubborn, mind-controlling, dream-melting PARASITE of a thing, manifests itself in an intricate web of thinking processes wrapped in the guise of wanting to do a good job. Thoughts such as:
“You should make sure that all your posts are consistently labelled because it will look better. Don’t number some of them and not others.”
Sounds nice, right? And yet, when I look beneath that logical-sounding argument, this is what I find:
“You need to do this because if you don’t, someone else will point it out. They will call you sloppy, or lazy, or stupid, or incapable. You need to get to the imperfection before they expose you for it.”
And thus, the snake is revealed for what it is. Bunk pie.
What often has happened at this point in the internal conversation is that I give up. “It’s just too hard,” I might think under the weight of this persistent voice. And therefore I might say or do nothing to challenge it. And so I have learned to keep a lot of thoughts and ideas, and creativity, and probably valuable parts of myself under wraps (which is an ironic word choice perhaps, since RAPPING is one way that I created to break myself out of that shit*).
But no longer! I hereby defy such mental tyranny! Be on guard, foul beast of internal anguish. Your days are numbered! (Another fitting word choice, because to go back to where we opened this discussion, this all explains why I may or may not be numbering my posts**. And so the circle is complete.)
*These two spots represents the second time and third times on this blog thus far that I have crossed the “language-we-use-in-polite-company” barrier. I don’t know if doing this will help or hurt me in the long run, but I do feel it is important to the liberating character of this blog that I not be overly strict in using sanitized language. In other words, I may just fucking cuss!
**Update from a day later: In a strange (but not surprising?) irony, I found myself yesterday slipping into the “it’s gotta be perfect” mindset when I saw that, because I hadn’t set the correct time zone on this blog before posting my first three posts (including this one), the date on the 2nd and 3rd posts were listed as being a day LATER than they actually were (because it actually was tomorrow in whatever timezone WordPress defaulted to). This could not be! So in a moment of great heroism (read: “compulsive perfectionism”), I manually changed the “published” date on these two posts, thus correcting the dating problem… and therefore starting a BRAND NEW problem… which is, all of a sudden, the posts are out of order! Which means what was supposed to be my FIRST post is now my 2nd post! Arggh! (Is the Universe toying with me?) Fortunately I have a sense of humor about this (though it is undeniably a matter of dire importance to all of humanity…)***
***Update to my update (two days later): problem fixed. I accidentally changed the published date on this post to March, instead of April, so it was showing up before the actual first post. Now I can rest easy, reassured that the order of the Universe has been restored… (Note: this may seem extremely stupid to write about, but I’m giving myself full license to talk about my actual thinking process because, at heart, I am an optimist, and think it may help me get over this stuff to actually communicate about it. Also, it’s my blog, so I can write about whatever I want…. So there, Neh-neh..)