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Untitled: Work in progress

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Due to fears brought on by a lifetime of perfectionism, my childish wish is  to know the end result  before I start. Before embarking on something new – before I commit to that BIG thing – I want to know that I’ll succeed. I want to know that the work I produce will be good, and will be praised, acknowledged and accepted.

If you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, you know this desire well and how much it tends to bite you in the ass.

The problem with holding on to this desire so fervently? I deprive myself of the journey and process of going through it (whatever “it” is). 

The scared kid in me afraid of being seen for who and what I really am wants to pop out fully formed and be an expert at whatever endeavor I’m tackling.

Intellectually I know this is preposterous. But perfectionism has little to do with the intellect; it is about the emotions – particularly the ones surrounding rejection versus acceptance.

Creatives who are also perfectionists have it particularly hard. So do perfectionistic freelancers and small business owners.

The vicious cycle goes something like this: we need to be seen in order to be successful. We are wary of being seen for who we really are because doing so didn’t go well for us in the past. So we try on different masks. We become exhausted by the constant pretending. We fail, or at best find hollow success because we’re not being real. So we try something new.

But we’re afraid of being seen so we try on yet another mask, thinking maybe THIS ONE will work for us this time.

I grew up in a dysfunctional family. My father was an alcoholic and workaholic. And my mother was depressed (undiagnosed). 

I had both overwhelmed and distracted parents, which equated to neither being emotionally available to me.

I was the youngest of 4 children and was bullied by one (sometimes two) of my siblings. My parents pretty much left me to my own devices. They provided the basics to survive (food, shelter, clothing). But that’s about it. 

As a child and teenager, I can’t recall a time when my mother hugged me or even touched me in a loving manner. She never once told me she loved me. My father only paid attention to me when HE needed to be loved and adored.

From a young age I witnessed two of my older siblings rebelling (loudly) and getting into a lot of trouble for it.  

I vividly remember sitting with my hands folded in my lap while my parents threatened to send one of my rebelling siblings off to what was referred to as “reform school.” I can remember that moment as though it just happened. I vowed to myself to NEVER cause any problems for my parents.

I made it my life’s mission to have zero impact on my overwhelmed and distracted parents. I wanted to be the good kid – thinking this would make it easier for them to love me or least pay more attention to me. I would be the child who never caused them an ounce of pain or problems. 

To accomplish this feat, I became invisible. 

To make matters worse, one of my acting-out siblings thought it would be fun to make my life a living hell, bullying me both physically and emotionally. 

For whatever reason, I was seen as the problem to all of their family pain, and placed me squarely in their crosshairs.

Consequently my quest to be invisible and not create any negative impact for my parents was strengthened by my survival instinct to become invisible to my sibling.

The lesson I learned? Don’t stand out. Always fly beneath the radar. Because the moment I get noticed, I’m going to get pounded either physically or emotionally.

Suffice it to say, a lifelong goal to be invisible doesn’t bode well for success as a business owner or creative.

Hmpf. Who knew?

So I titled this post “Untitled: Work in Progress” as a reminder and a promise to myself. I want to remember that I don’t have to be perfect or “fully formed” before I allow myself to be seen. 

I am a “work in progress”

I don’t need to be perfect, or good, or quiet or invisible in order to be accepted. I can be loud, messy, make mistakes, fuck up, change my mind, and try again.

Me being here (on this website and blog) letting it all hang out for anyone to see is quite a big step for me. I typically need to hold my cards close to my chest and not let anyone see the process of whatever it is I’m trying to accomplish. This will be a constant battle for me to blog about my mistakes as well as the triumphs I make.

But I’m willing to try.

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Hi, I'm Kerry

...of Curiously Designed. This blog documents my journey as I figure out how to finally pursue a long-held dream of being a working illustrator and designer.

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