As I've been cruising through my early 30s, I've realized that the perfectionism that I've held near and dear for so long has actually held me back in so many ways. Thanks to Super Soul Sunday, red wine, and just that "I really don't care what you think" mentality that comes with getting older, I've thought about how with my perfectionism has also come a debilitating fear of failure.
My perfectionism has served me well in many way, seen me through a lot of hard work and kept me striving to be accomplished and independent. It's helped me get and keep my shit together (as they say). But I see now how it's kept me back in some ways. When you're terrified of not doing something well, you don't want to do it at all. A crafty perfectionist carves a life filled with activities at which they can succeed while limiting room for error at all costs. It can be exhausting.
But sometimes you can find ways to get over your fears in the strangest of places. For me, travelling has helped me get over some of my perfectionist tendencies. Probably one of the biggest learning curves was moving to London at 25 to be Miss Cool Ex-Pat 2006. I sucked at it.
I barely made it through immigration without getting deported. I rented a depressing bed-sit (UK English for closet you sleep in) for almost a month where the locks kind-of worked and I had to stick my computer out the window to pick up wi-fi. I thought it'd be so easy to find a job, but I spent so many hours applying to any position I could think of remotely close to my career field, without any luck. I was too afraid to travel because of my dicey entry and didn't want to risk it.
I was neither cool, nor an ex-pat at this point. I was an almost broke, semi-legal immigrant who realized she might have to pack it all in and come home with her tail between her legs and passport barely touched. But it was a huge learning experience for me. I almost wasn't able to make a dream of mine come true. I had taken a risk and there was a good possibility it wasn't going to work out.
But, I realized I was still going to be okay. I've learned that mistakes can be lessons is gratitude- even if I hadn't gotten the opportunity to stay, how fortunate was I to even be able to try and live in London for a few months? For the first time in my life I learned what it was like to be genuinely worried about money and to never take networking an a job opportunity for granted. That time of my life was memories and lessons I think think about (and write about) often.
Now I have to conquer my fear of failing at travelling out of my comfort zone. I've never been to South American, Africa, and most of Asia. I've dreamed about it, but fear of not being able to communicate, navigate, and generally looking like an idiot has held me back. I put so much doubt into my head about my abilities to hang in third-world countries that I inevitably pick destinations where I can plan, plan, plan and then plan some more.
But I'm working on it and hopefully my travels can help me shed some more of the perfectionist layers that often weigh me down.
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