Thursday’s Thought: Elizabeth Gilbert on Perfectionism

I think perfectionism is just a high-end haute couture version of fear.  I think perfectionism is just fear in fancy shoes and a milk coat, pretending to be elegant when actually it’s just terrified.  Because underneath that shiny veneer, perfectionism is nothing more than a deep existential angst that says, again and again, ‘I am not good enough and I will never be good enough….

I’ve long been inspired by the private diaries of the second-centurey Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.  The wise philosopher-king never intended that his meditations be published, but I’m grateful that they were…
…I especially love watching [him] fighting his perfectionism in order to get back to work on his writing, regardless of the results.  ‘Do what nature demands,’ he writes to himself.  ‘Get a move on – if you have it in you – and don’t worry whether anyone will give you credit for it.  And don’t go expecting Plato’s Republic, be satisfied with even the smallest progress, and treat the outcome of it all as unimportant.’
Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds it endearing and encouraging that a legendary Roman philosopher had to reassure himself that it’s okay not to be Plato.

– Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic


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