We all know that feeling like you’re behind the curve, too slow, or not making any progress. Indeed, even when you do make a breakthrough, you don’t give yourself credit and view it simply as breaking even in what you ‘already should have been able to do’. Or, when you are presented with environments that require new skills and you aren’t immediately flawless, you panic. Fearing vulnerability and failure, you don’t ask for help and inevitably quit to protect yourself.
We’ve all been there.
The first thing I need to establish here is that the opposite of success is not failure, and nor indeed, is the absence of success a failure in itself. This feeling of inadequacy starts with constantly comparing yourself to all the people you perceive to be more talented, successful or rich than you – on social media and in real life. This is a mindset that makes it feel impossible to succeed because you likely aren’t judging the terms of your success in things that you actually prioritise, but instead, aspects of life which the media conditions us to covet (material wealth, travelling, fitness, getting your dream job). This is not an article which will pretend that everything can be ‘cured’ in this mindset.
Simply put, we just need to work on being kinder to ourselves and it makes all the difference.
We need to overcome the perspective of ‘perfection or don’t even try’. We all have some form of mental blocker that convinces us we’re not good enough or we procrastinate hard enough that we have the parachute excuse of ‘well, I still did fine, even with those limited time constraints’. It’s easier to do that than to try our best and still fall short of our own expectations. However, you cannot operate on the assumption of having to give everything in order to contribute an idea that is worthy or valid, because this guilt-inducing mindset insists that there is always something more that you should be doing. That is toxic.
However, in terms of small ways we can try to trick ourselves into getting things started, here’s one big piece of advice: always remember to allow yourself to be rubbish. Repeat it aloud to yourself: I give myself permission to be rubbish today. When writing a paper, after all, the first draft only serves to ensure that a draft exists; you can edit it to be functional and refined later on. But you have to have something to work with in order to improve it. It’s easy to be bad, so maybe even be purposefully bad – make a couple of mistakes when starting a new job, sing the wrong lyrics, and dance like your mother chaperoning a school disco. It’ll seem embarrassing and you will cringe, trust me, but you will also learn so much.
It’s 2019, people; we need to start looking our mistakes in the eye to acknowledge that it’s okay to be flawed in order to grow. We’ve got this.