Don’t Let Perfection be the Enemy of Good

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My greatest fear is of failure.

My second greatest fear is ridicule.

In my mind, failure and ridicule come hand-in-hand. There is always an inherent fear of ridicule for being bad at something. For me, this fear manifested in university. There was a lot of collaborative work and peer review. I saw my writing as lesser than that of my peers and eventually dreaded it when it came time for review. Despite receiving similar (or better) grades than those around me, the fear persisted until I graduated. As you can imagine the fear of others reading my work was not a great mindset to have when pursuing a degree in journalism. Those fears still haven’t vanished.

For me, trying something new usually means trying something once. I remember a time in 2020 after I had bought myself an iPad. I thought how it would be fun to dabble in digital art, just as a hobby to create fantasy characters and landscapes. I watched beginner courses on YouTube and Skillshare, had a plan for where to start, and was excited to get going. I remember creating my first brushstroke, literally a single curved line, and absolutely hating it. It was weak, ineffectual, and diffident. That line completely shattered the faux confidence that I had created before I started. I continued for a few more minutes before shutting off my iPad and giving up. I asked myself “why would I want to continue creating such bad art?” The ridicule I dreaded was coming from myself.

In this situation, expectation was the thief of joy. What I had expected of myself and what I had created were completely different. How could I have been so off-base? My failure was not that my brushstrokes were bad (of course they were bad, I had never tried this before!), but rather that I had not started with realistic expectations. While I had watched different tutorials, my body was not used to moving that way. My hand did not physically know how to create confident strokes yet. My body was not doing what my mind wanted. These techniques were not something I could teach myself from a tutorial, it was something that could only come through time and practice. I was devastated, and I did not give myself another opportunity to learn.

It is important to let yourself be bad. Allow yourself the opportunity to improve. The start of something new is the most exciting time because it is when you will see the greatest improvement. If I had the discipline to continue, I guarantee that there would have been a noticeable improvement within my first week, and even more in my first month. The beginning is just a starting point, it’s the start of the race. Looking back, nearly two years later, I would probably be pretty good by now. I was creating my “before,” and now there won’t be an “after.”

No one will look down on you for being an amateur. If I had to print out a single sentence and tape it to my bathroom mirror to see every morning, I think it would be this. It takes courage to start something new, and it takes courage to let others be a part of your journey. Those in your circle, the people that really matter, want to see you succeed. They will stick by you. Let them prop you up when you need it. Not everyone will like what you’re doing. Accept that, move on, but listen to those that do. My fear of ridicule is not based in reality. Don’t let your fears paralyze you into not trying.

Overcoming the enemy of good begins with allowing yourself to be vulnerable. Wear your amateur status as a badge of pride, because you took the courageous first step in starting something new. Allow yourself to be bad, but strive to get better. Let yourself improve, celebrate your highs, and don’t let the lows get you too far down. Learn from your successes but more importantly, learn from your failures. Because you will fail and you will falter, those are necessary steps. Embrace criticisms you may receive, and discard the ridicule that comes from within. Set realistic expectations but still strive to achieve your goals.

I chose this topic as my first post because it conveys the fear I had when I came up with the idea for this blog. This first post, it’s probably pretty bad. Yeah, my writing can improve and the website is not even half-finished, but this is it, this is my “before.” I can’t wait to see my “after.”

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