I must simply begin, and then I must continue with consistency and perseverance. Like the dust dwelling in my house, no progress can be made if I don’t begin to clean it. And no house will remain clean without a human (or a Roomba—though it has its limits) who consistently cleans it.
I lay on the couch like a mannequin. Perfectionism paralyzes my body, keeping me from walking across the room and meeting my enemy. I know what will happen. I’ll feel defeated before I try to fight. I must avoid it then, and play dead.
This enemy lives on the baseboards, the windowsills, the shelves, or on any physical object that hasn’t been moved in a while. If I see the first particle, I will want every minuscule bit gone—forever! I dip my washcloth and scrub and wipe. My white rag turns charcoal before I finish the target area. I doubt my ability to finish. I blame myself and call myself names. I vow to never let the enemy come back—to invade the space with my toxic chemicals before it does. But I know perfectionism will paralyze me again. It always does. Meanwhile, my enemy grows and multiplies.
I procrastinate more things than the killing and disposing of dust. Recently, I’ve procrastinated learning a new language.
I don’t need to know it this very minute, but I will later on. I have more excuses though—similar to how I excuse myself from the necessary cleaning. Once I begin, my weakness will most definitely show.
I’m scared. I know thirty years old is not the prime time to learn a foreign language. I know my thick, southern accent will be difficult to hide. I know my tutor will need to correct me, and I’ll be embarrassed. I know my memory will fail me, and I’ll feel stupid.
I fear others will catch on more quickly than I will—like my children or my husband. I fear it impossible for me to ever become fluent. This language becomes the new enemy. Anything that threatens my ability to be perfect does.
I want to be a natural—someone who catches on quickly. I want to sound like the natives and understand them too. But I must know it will take work! I must not let my perfectionism paralyze me, making me procrastinate day after day.