It’s that time again! It’s WritersWeekly.com's 24-Hour Short Story contest. I really love participating in this event a couple of times each year.
How it works:
I’ve been participating in this contest on and off for years now. It’s only $5 to enter, and it really gets your creativity flowing…a wonderful thing whether you place or not.
The first time I entered, I received an honorable mention. That was a thrill to me…and gave me a kick-start…so much so that I began working on a novel that I had an idea for years before. Check it out!
Marilyn sure had it right when she said, “Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”
Oh, who am I kidding? I still can’t help but strive for the perfection part. I give myself some room for mistakes and refrain from sticking bamboo shoots under my fingernails when I skip a workout (every day for three weeks), drink one too many at the bar (ahem, happy hour turns into a let’s-stay-and-shut-the-place-down event) or decide at the last minute that a self-imposed deadline was a bit unrealistic (well, it’s not technically due ’til next week, so…), but typically I expect a lot of myself. So much so that it is often hard to keep up with my personal demands. Fortunately, demand a lot equals deliver a lot…until I can only go so long until I crash and enter into the dreaded tub-of-cookie-dough-eating, less-than-enthusiastic, Do I have to shower again? sloth phase. It’s quite a cycle.
Back in the day, I always tried my hardest and almost always met my expectations. I rarely ever failed as a youngin’ and that screwed me big time for when I entered my 20′s and started effin’ things up left and right. Looking back, I also see I started risking more, hence more opportunities for failure, but at the time, it was beyond confusing to not get it right all the time. I developed my cycle of perfection seeking insanity back then and it always ended the same way: the inevitable health crash. I’d work to the brink of my ability, burn myself out, struggle to pull myself back to calm and once I was “safe,” I’d get physically ill. Whether a sore throat, fever, migraine, or issues with “el estomago,” I’d be a wreck. And when my health wasn’t “perfect,” it would stress me out even more. HELLO?! How did I not put this all together? Too busy charting out the path to world domination before the age of 25, I suppose. Thankfully I missed that deadline and have learned that mellow does not have to equal lowered productivity, or delayed success.
So where did this all come from? Recently, I read a great article, The Dark Side of Perfectionism Revealed. The article made me take a deeper look into my perfection obsession. A look, that combined with other recent epiphanies, might just help me kick the habit away for good. Bottom line: extreme perfectionism is just not good for your health. Cue the heavenly light and singing of angels. Setting such high goals on a continual basis leaves so many opportunities for life to get in the way of plans, as it so often does, and ruin your perfect record. Funny how in my attempt to get everything right, I just so happened to ignore such a basic, easy, simple, no-I’m-serious-you-didn’t-get-that? truth.
There’s no doubt I’ll always strive for the best – it’s part of what makes me, me. But something else that makes me, me is an ability to laugh at those perfectly imperfect moments.
And you know what? I love to laugh.
It’s been almost a full year since I officially started my own business and began my journey as an entrepreneurial producer/video editor/writer/start-up junkie/enthusiast of a ridiculous number of things. It was a long time in the making, but when I finally made the jump, I felt incredible. Here’s a look back at how it started...
On February 16, 2011 at 6:15pm EST, I drove away from my place of full-time employment at a national, prime-time television show, blasting Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again.” Shall I remind you of the lyrics? No problem.
Here I go again on my own
Going down the only road I’ve ever known
Like a drifter I was born to walk alone
And I’ve made up my mind
I ain’t wastin’ no more time
[Insert 80’s Hair Band Scream]
That’s right. Because as of that moment I had officially embarked on beginning my own business and being my own boss.
It was a difficult choice. To outsiders, I had a fantastic job. I was working in the field of my college major: television. No joke. Well, officially it was called Television-Radio. And, that was my sensible choice over “acting” since I decided to choose a more “employable” major. Oh, past me, you were so funny. First of all, who majors in television? Second, who majors in television and actually gets a job IN television? (Well, a lot of people if you went to Ithaca College! Go IC!)
But, in any case, leaving a full-time job with a steady paycheck and benefits to have to fight for each job, and provide my own benefits…is often looked on as certifiably insane. Luckily, I’m just shy enough of that mark to have made the decision, while also sane enough to make it happen.
Leaving work that day was certainly a magical moment. Sometimes it feels like it happened fast, other times when I really reflect on the process, I realize that close to a year of moonlighting, prepping, researching, planning, strategizing and work-filled weekends went into this grand moment. And that made it all the more special. As much as I wanted to jump right in immediately, I instead did the pre-planning that will sustain me for longer, and lead to a more successful endeavor.
I knew it was time to fully immerse myself in my business when I legitimately was running out of time in the week. I did a lot of work on the weekends for larger projects and a bit of work most mornings and some evenings. And that, was just for one client. To actually focus on myself, I just didn’t have the time to work on everything in the way I wanted.
So, that time crunch issue coupled with the fact that I didn’t have a position to move onward and upward into at my full-time job led to…the big leap. An oh-so-scary leap that has made me feel more confident than ever.
The first step is always the hardest because it requires a ‘tude adjustment. Once you make the decision that you want to design your daily life the way YOU want it to look, and make an agreement with yourself to stick out the difficult times no matter what…that’s when you know you’re ready to leap and soar.