Perfectionism is self hatred in disguise.


I would rather be naked than let you see me learn the banjo. That says a lot. I don’t do naked well. (Think Bob the tomato). Learning something new while people watch is apparently worse.

I call it being an introvert.

My husband calls it being a perfectionist.

Either way, I don’t like people seeing me or hearing me try something new until I master it.

The problem with that?

Life isn’t meant to be lived in a vacuum.

Truth is, I’ll let my husband see me naked, but I won’t let him sit out on the porch while I practice my banjo. For some reason I feel more vulnerable playing the banjo than I do in the nude.

Refusing to let my husband (he’s a professional musician on weekends) hear me play robs him of the joy of music.

I knew my anxiety level had reached an all time high when not only did I not want my husband to hear me play the banjo, I couldn’t play for my teacher either.

When we first started out with lessons — in May, I’d get so nervous that I made my instructor nervous.

That’s rough.

My husband finally offered me his great wisdom.

“This isn’t the Opry, it’s our back porch. Now lighten up and have fun already.”

I’ve been having a lot of fun since he said that. When I get frustrated (like I am tonight) I remind myself that I started playing the banjo on May 25 2012 and I missed three lessons in June because of traveling. So really, I’ve only been playing for four weeks. In those four weeks, I have learned chords, how to tune a banjo, how to read tabs, four basic rolls and now I’m learning slides.

My husband does not think less of me because I haven’t mastered this yet.

My instructor (who has been playing guitar for 40 and banjo for 3 years) does not think less of me because I’m not as good as he is.

Fact: I sing in the chorus of the second longest running presentation of Handel’s Messiah in the US. Have since 2000. I cannot read a lick of music. I’ve memorized the entire piece. That takes talent.

Learning how to create music brings me joy and will help me become a better songwriter.

Hating myself because I have the unrealistic expectation of mastering something over night (like slides) is ridiculous.

This isn’t the Opry.

It’s my back porch.

I hereby give myself permission to not be great while I learn with the knowledge that every time I try, I will get better.

What new thing are you trying to learn right now?

Are you willing to be kind to yourself while you learn?

10 thoughts on “Perfectionism is self hatred in disguise.

  1. Striving for excellence is great. Getting stymied by perfection? Not so great. It seems as if you are surrounded by encouragers which is key. Recognizing you are who you were created to be, by a God who only creates “Amazing”, is another key. I am working on that second one. Great post. Thanks.

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    1. “Recognizing you are who you were created to be, by a God who only creates “Amazing”, is another key” LOVE THAT – working on that as well Dwayne. — CCA is amazing when it comes to encouragement and support. That’s one of the things I absolutely love about our group. Thank you for sharing. Be blessed.

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  2. Profound! I struggled with perfectionism for 41 years of my life. I had an experience this past weekend that brought it all back and I knew that no matter what, I was NOT going back there. No one, no way, no how. I never thought of perfectionism as being self-hatred in disguise. But of course you’re right. 🙂

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    1. Thanks Lauri — A lot of women really struggle with perfectionism. I know I do. Of course my logic always was “I don’t do anything well enough to be a perfectionist.” Doh. I’m glad this was helpful. Thank you for commenting.

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  3. Great post –
    Children aren’t afraid to try new things … but somehow we learned we must be perfect …. perhaps from ridicule when we did try something new?

    Must reclaim that inner child 🙂

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    1. You are right. The need for perfection is learned. I’ve had to learn how to play with bubbles just to give that inner child of mine a giggle from time to time. Anne Lamott once said “Anything worth learning is worth doing badly the first time. Be willing to be bad at something in order to be better.” Love that.

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  4. Good on you!!! Play that banjo and stare those fears in the eyes and tell them you’re not in the mood to cater to them today, you’ve got music to make..

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  5. Reminds me of when I broke my right patella. I was braced for 4 weeks and then had surgery due to torn cartilege (I know I spelled that wrong). Three weeks later I couldn’t understand why my knee would not “bend” and it was the surgeon who “woke me up” that I have to give it time. Frustration can be a mean emotion when trying to accomplish something. Everything worthwhile takes time for honing.

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