Today at lunch I spent a little time on Ask Metafilter–not looking for anything in particular, mind you, just a general sort of looking. I spend less time online lately, but the Metafiltering is a thing I still do every now and then, usually when I’m trying to avoid doing something else. So there I was, clicking and avoiding, and then I read this comment you wrote, and I started to cry. I didn’t cry about the vegetarian food ideas (Smart Dogs are good, but they’re not that good) or about how expensive Whole Foods is (fucking expensive, but not tear-inducingly so) or about how much I might miss bacon if I stopped eating it (although I’d miss it a lot). No, I cried at this part:
You might get fed up and snap and have a hamburger. You might find that you’re perfectly happy being a vegetarian all the time except Sunday mornings, when you just want to goddamned pieces of bacon with your scrambled eggs. You might not think about the chicken stock in the soup until after you’ve eaten it. That’s ok. Don’t feel like you’ve failed as a vegetarian. Even though, yes, you ate some meat, you are eating less meat. Your new vegetarianism (whatever your reason for it) is not some fragile vase that is going to shatter the second you have a bite of meat. It is as strong as you decide it is, and the boundaries are where you set them. Remember that what’s important here is net benefit. A single hot dog does not erase all the benefits from not eating meat for the previous weeks, months, or years. If you were only 100% vegetarian for a single day that would be better than never.
You wrote it about vegetarianism, but I read it like this:
Your $x (whatever your reason for it) is not some fragile vase that is going to shatter the second you $y. It is as strong as you decide it is, and the boundaries are where you set them.
At which point it became about the long, long list of things I’ve stopped doing lately, things I’ve let languish simply because I’m afraid I can’t do them perfectly. I can’t write a book perfectly, I can’t sew a skirt perfectly, I can’t redesign this website perfectly (let alone post on it), I can’t process my photos perfectly, I can’t do anything perfectly. This particular thought pattern has crippled me to the point where I’ve become paralyzed with anxiety, and I’ve stopped doing anything at all.
I’m sure that this is obvious to other people, but it is not obvious to me: it’s okay if I’m not perfect. Really, it is. My writing is not some fragile vase that is going to shatter the second I split an infinitive; if I only sewed for a single day that would be better than never; and so on and so forth. And that’s why I cried when I read your comment. I’ve always known that “It’s okay if I’m not perfect” is a factual statement, but reading what you wrote made me think that I just might start believing it.