The Truth About Fear & Perfectionism & How To Beat Them

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It's been a long time since I did an “Ask Rachel” post, so coming at you with one that I think a lot of us have struggled with at some point in our life:

I just want to know how you stayed motivated in your first year of blogging and got over perfectionism and fear? I am currently struggling with all of that and it's keeping me from actually doing my dreams.The months keep passing by and I still haven't been motivated enough. 

*ICYMI: You can submit any question here and I may answer it on the blog in the “Ask Rachel” series!

I want to note that my response to this question is going to be broader than just blogging. If you want more specific blogging related feedback, stay tuned to the bottom of the post for suggested reading.

But, today I want to talk about overcoming fear and perfectionism on a broader scale. I want to touch on some of the truths about fear and perfectionism in our twenties and hopefully get you thinking of ways to reframe them so you can overcome them forever.

I think perfectionism and fear are things that hold us all back in our careers and passions; whether that's blogging, being a therapist, engineer, musician, whatever! As millennials, most of us were told that we are special and can do anything we set our minds to growing up. But the reality we all know: we can't all be special and all of our dreams can't come true — enter fear and the need to be perfect. *Queue panic attack*

So let's start with fear:





When we look at little kids they are fearless. They know exactly what they want and usually will say it. I think back to my younger self and I knew I wanted to write. I spent all of my time writing. Until my biological father told me “left handed people are stupid in my country” and made me re-write everything with my right hand. Can you guess what that led to? A fear of writing! Which grew into a hatred of anything related to english and writing.

Most of our fears are rooted in some sort of negative feedback we received from others, ourselves, or the world. At some point, something told us that we needed to fear this thing for self preservation. Which leads me back to that little acronym I just wrote: it's false evidence appearing real. Usually — I mean a healthy does of fear when it comes to putting your hand on a stove is probably a reality. But when it comes to our careers and passions and relationships, the acronym holds true 99.99999% of the time.

How do I overcome the fear?

Look at what caused it in the first place.

Usually, it's someone else's baggage that projected onto us. At some point most of us will internalize that other persons baggage as our own truth. How sad is that? IMO, Our twenties are about unlearning all the B.S. that people told us we “should” believe or feel, and get to know ourselves.

I ask myself, “What's the worst that can happen?”

Usually the worst that can happen isn't that scary.

People won't like it? They'll quickly forget about it and move on.

My feelings get hurt? Well emotions are like waves in the ocean. They come and go. Each one with a peak, and crash, leaving you with peace in between the sets. They aren't permanent or ever lasting, just temporary blips in a pretty big sea.

I fail. Which would be the most beautiful gift of all. You see when we fail, we have these beautiful opportunities to grow and connect. It's only through those moments of failing, that we have the choice to fail forward. To grow in strength and character. That's the gift. Life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey, and that journey will consist of countless “failures,” bumps, scrapes, and bruises.

Life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey.Click To Tweet

Which leads me to perfectionism.

Perfectionism is a funny thing. Logically we all know it unattainable. Yet, so many of us feel this need to strive for it, but why? Imagine for a moment that you actually were perfect. What would that look like? Feel like? What relationships would you have in your life? I mean really think about that. Because the reality is, perfectionism isn't relatable, it's isolating.

Perfectionism isn't relatable, it's isolating. Click To Tweet

Life is beautiful because we make mistakes, and connect with others through our vulnerabilities and we can only do that when we are humble and honest with ourselves. If we try to zip it all in under the facade of perfectionism, that's lonely AF. Don't strive for perfectionism, strive for greatness. Strive to impact others in a positive way. If you use that as your compass instead of perfectionism, you're going to be alright.


10 Lessons From My First Year Blogging

Advice To My 18 Year Old Self

5 Things To Do When You Feel Defeated And Depleted

How To Overcome Those “First Post Jitters

advice for yours 20s, perfectionism tips, overcome fear, motivational quotes

Originally published on 10/09/17

41 thoughts on “The Truth About Fear & Perfectionism & How To Beat Them”

  1. I have such a hard time with comparison and trying to do things perfectly, but this past year I have really worked on focusing on the things I can control and the good instead of all of the things I wish I could change. Great post!

  2. Thank you SO MUCH for this article – I have been a perfectionist all my life, as well as someone wrought with multiple anxieties, so this article was exactly what I needed this morning. Your words are very empowering. I love the metaphor of our feelings being like “waves in the ocean” – that is so very true, and from now on I am most definitely going to keep this in mind. I find I ALWAYS emotionally attach myself to my work – it feels like an extension of me – so, when other people dislike it or something, I take it too personally, like a direct attack on me as a person. I truly believe having these little thoughts at the back of my mind will really help me cope with that. So thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time to help us all take a step back, and ground ourselves in reality.

  3. yessss to having to unlearn all the things we are told we should feel/want! I also love “People won’t like it? They’ll quickly forget about it and move on.” Maybe whatever it is wasn’t for those people anyways!

  4. I was told growing up I would never amount to anything. Needless to say based on my past I was fearful to try anything and when I did attempt something it had to be perfect, which of course is impossible. It took decades for me to understand the role my past played in my attempts at success. I now am trying writing and have written my first book. Thanks for your article it is a good reminder:-)

  5. Loved this post so much. I grew up always trying to be the best at everything, and that has honestly resulted in me being way too controlling in my adult life. I always want things a certain way so that I know what to expect. But where is the fun in that? I love that acronym of FEAR – definitely going to keep that one close by.

  6. Great advice! One way that I got over my fear of starting my blog is I knew it would make me happier than an alternative career. I am so glad that I did, because I am happier now than ever before.

  7. Elizabeth Johnson

    Yes!!! I struggle with perfectionism and you are absolutely right. It is unattainable and completely isolating. I am better than I was in high school when it comes to dealing with it but still a work in progress.

  8. This was such a great read! I tend to be a perfectionist and it can suck sometimes because I hesitate to mobilize on things I could be great at because I’m afraid it won’t turn out “perfect.” I really just need to get over the fear and take that first step.

  9. I love this post! We really do need to overcome this. Unfortunately I think social media purports the quest for many people to be perfect, which is reality no one is. I like how you put it- strive for greatness. We all can be our own kind of great!

  10. Wishing I could transport myself back to my 8 year old self when I was a die-hard dreamer and thought I could anything and everything. But you’re right, asking yourself, “what’s the worst that can happen?” Gives a ton of perspective and reminds us of all the things that can go RIGHT!

  11. I definitely struggle with this sometimes myself. Being a perfectionist is totally frustrating because that perfection will never be achieved. =/

  12. Lauren Falardeau Pariseau

    Fear + Perfectionism are constant, especially when perception is everything in social media. But we can let that stop us! There’s a really great quote that I can exactly remember but it’s along the lines of “if you’re not embarrassed my your early work, then you started too late.” That’s what reading your post made me think of!

  13. I really enjoyed reading this post. Could not agree more with Lauren’s comment. Love that quote!

  14. This makes so much sense. Sometimes I find myself being a perfectionist, but we have to remind ourselves that is a lonely place. I feel alot of pressure from social media when it comes to perfectionism.

  15. I’ve read this article a handful of times because it always brings me back to center when things are getting a little out of hand. It’s a great article and I love having it to read over and over.

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