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Do Not Expect Perfection, and Do Not Sit in Silence

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As we prepared to chant the opening prayer, Kino advised us to speak up and avoid being shy. The words were in Sanskrit, and we'd repeat each line after her.

"It's better to not expect perfection than to sit in silence," she said.

Though the words were in the context of a yoga practice, later I considered how they can be applied off the mat.

How often in life have you waited to make a decision, to take action, to do something, because the timing wasn't right, because something was missing, because it wasn't perfect?

How many times have you said, "I might as well not try because I know I can't be the best"?

That you should quit (losing weight, playing soccer, studying French) because it isn't easy.

As a kid, I was paralyzed by the fear of not being the best. I was a straight-A student, a good dancer, and a talented writer. Tall and lanky, I was not an athlete. I knew I wasn't strong or fast, and my hand-eye coordination was lousy.

I didn't make it past the training wheel phase of bike riding until I was 26 (with a 21-year hiatus), and I never tried out for T-ball or soccer. In grade school, I deliberately wore dresses to avoid gym class, and when I reached high school, I feigned cramps. I refused to ride roller coasters, and I cried the first time I flew in an airplane. I hyperventilated at the prospect of ziplining.

I didn't try any of those things because I was afraid to fail, of making a fool of myself.
I sat in the proverbial silence because I was afraid.

To cope with chaos at home, I clung to control everyplace else. I followed every rule, I studied hard, and I did what I was told (until I became an angst-ridden teen, that is).
It should come as no surprise that I started suffering from panic and anxiety attacks in 11th grade, and I was hospitalized with anorexia at age 13.

Life was scary, and it was hard, so I buried myself in school.

All that hard work paid off. I earned a full academic scholarship. I graduated with honors and two degrees. I studied abroad, worked two jobs every summer, and ended up with a career I love.

And I've learned that fear is normal, that you can't run from it. I've learned there are time for sitting silently, and there are times to scream in excitement, to howl at the moon, to laugh out loud.

"Fear is the natural reaction to moving closer to the truth," says Pema Chodron.
When you start to take on your fears, be them riding downhill on a bike without braking (big fear of mine), moving away from home, or starting a journey to lose weight and get healthy, you will feel free. Yes, more fears will arise. Yes, "bad" things will happen. Yes, it will be difficult.

But you'll realize that the paralysis that fear causes is worse than any pain that fear can inflict. You'll experience good things alongside the bad, and things will get easier.

I'm not fearless, but as an adult, I am facing my fears. I moved to a country where I knew no one and barely spoke the language. I lost 50 pounds and kept it off. I quit a job that made me miserable.

And I survived.

If you sit in silence and do nothing, waiting for perfection, you'll waste your life away.

There's never the perfect moment to start losing weight.
There's never the right time to leave your life and start anew.
And there's never an easy way to let someone down.

But there are moments, there is time, and there are ways.

Be brave. Take risks. Believe in yourself.

And reject perfection. It doesn't exist.

So I ask you: Will you sit in silence? Or will you laugh out loud at your own imperfection?

What is your advice to someone who's afraid to try?

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JWINKSLLC 6/18/2020
Love this advice! Report
DEE107 4/16/2020
thanks for sharing Report
KATELJM 4/15/2020
Thanks, sometimes one's greatest success is determined precisely at the exact moment of failure - that's how the high jump works. Report
Thanks Report
Awesome perspective. Thanks! Report
I am not fearless but I am not afraid of trying new things. I have a dear friend who is, like the article describes and I tell her I will do it along side or 1st. She is more coordinated than me so she does things well when ahe tries. Way better than me. So having a friend who will support can do wonders. Report
Absolutely great Report
Good advice... Report
This hit home for me also. Thank you for this article. It's all a matter of stepping out of our comfort zone. Report
I stumbled upon this article today and it really rang true and hit home. I have let perfection and fear rule my life for too long. Thank you for your inspiring words. Report
This really hit home for me. Thank you for sharing this. It's exactly what I needed to tackle some of the exact things I struggle with. Report
I found so much personal meaning in this blog. Thank you for sharing your experience and encouragement! Report
Great words of wisdom and also timely in my life. Thank you. Report
This blog is excellent and very timely for me. Thank you!!! Report
I'm the scary type to try something new or push forward with an idea i have Report
Absolutely Beautiful! Report
What a lovely piece. Thank you for this post. I really needed to read this today! Report
There's never the perfect moment to start losing weight.
There's never the right time to leave your life and start anew.
And there's never an easy way to let someone down.
WOW! I could tattoo these words on my arm to read them everyday! THANKS! Report
I would tell them that they had taken the most important step... the first step... by deciding to start! Report
Very encoraging perspective. Thank you. Report
LOVE THIS. It definitely speaks to my experiences, and is something I needed to hear and listen to right now. Absolutely applies on and off the mat! Report
The reward is not in the accomplishment, but in facing the fear and being content with the outcome - regardless. Report
Very well written. You have to try new things. Report
Thank you.
Never EVER be afraid of things! Speak up, ask questions and TRY!! Who cares if you look dumb trying... truly its only you!! You might look like a goof but if you are having fun w/ something or at least giving something a try you won't regret not having done so ... but we are speaking about food AND EXERCISE - There's a lot of things to be wary of: diet plans w/ heavy promises, which includes the "miracle" pills and people who give you the willies just looking at them. Just use your "gut" when it comes to those things! :-)
And BTW ... is there such a thing as perfect?? It's all a matter of opinion, isn't it? Just be and do the best you can at all aspects of life ... don't be lazy and prone to excuses. It is amazing what can truly be overcome w/ the right mindset! Report
Physically, there isn't much I'm afraid of or won't try. Emotionally, however, I have a problem with perfection and trying to please everyone in my life but myself. I'd rather be unhappy than to make someone else unhappy...I found out the hard way, that isn't the way to live one's life. Perfection does NOT exist and one has to allow one self to face and get over one's fears and live life to its fullest. Report
This is a great blog! The older I get, the more adventurous I get. It's taken a long time (and it's still a work-in-progress) to face my fears and realize they are an opportunity for growth. It helps that I can usually laugh at myself when I "fail" and not worry about what others think. Each success or failure gets me a little closer to knowing myself better. Report
When I was 13, I rode down a hill on my bicycle and put on the breaks because I got too scared. I then proceeded to fly over the handlebars and head-first onto the pavement. I rolled all the way down the hill. My grandfather was riding with me, and he helped me to my feet. Luckily, I had my helmet on so I was not injured, just badly cut and bruised. I have not ridden a bike since. But I feel like now is the time to change that. Report
My "mantra" when Im in fear is : "Greater is He (God) within me than him (fear) of the world". This verse has helped me countless times in my life when I doubted myself or was paralysed with fear. Thanks for the great blog! Keep going. Report
Just do it!!!! Report
Fear can hold us back........from being all that we can be. I do know that. I have faced so many fears.....and still more to come. But fear is not bigger than God helping us face it. Report
I definitely needed to read this today. Report
I absolutely loved this blog....there are so many things in my life that I have not tried because of the fear of failure. Simply put....thank you. Report
Thank you for posting that. There have been too many times in my life I haven't taken that step forward for fear of either not accomplishing what I set out to do in perfect fashion according to some external criteria, or not accomplishing it according to the expectations of someone else. I'm over that. I now know that perfection is only what we believe ourselves to be - not what others think. If we believe we are perfect in every moment, then we are. I am perfect at this moment in time. Tomorrow I'll be perfect also, and perhaps a pound less on the scale! Report
Thanks! I needed to hear that! :) Report
Thank you so much for sharing this. I have always lived in fear that I will mess up or make a fool out of myself. I am a perfectionist and am afraid that I won't be the best. This year I am working towards losing 50 lbs. I am currently down 16 lbs. I also faced my fear last October and went zip lining with my husband for our anniversary. I am terrified of heights, but I loved zip lining and so glad I did it. I have set a goal to run a 5k a month this year. So far I have done all 5 months. I am not the fastest runner, but I do see my time improving and love doing it. I feel myself gaining confidence to get out there and try new things. It has been liberating. Thanks for sharing your blog...it is a reminder to keep getting out there and trying new things! Report
I was on facebook and saw this post and stopped in to read- so glad I did. I have been doing spark for two months, lost 9 pounds so far and kinda started feeling disengaged. I was feeling that I wasn't doing this "correctly"- not doing the exercising, eating, posting as often or at the intensity as I should. I found myself saying- if you can't do as good a job as everyone else that has lost more weight, then what is the point? However, today I am determined to get on track with eating and exercise "the best I can" and focus more on my accomplishments (like I did at the beginning of the journey) and less on my shortcomings. Thanks for the reminder! Report
Stephanie this is a great post! And as we can see by the many comments, most of us are at least at one time in our lives, paralyzed by fear. We're human, after all...
Alaskasky, please don't give up hope! As you can see change is possible even when we're in our 60s, 70s, and beyond! One tip for you that I'm sure will help. Try EFT! (Emotional Freedom Tapping) Find someone who's been trained and have them teach you how to use the technique. Once you learn, it's a simple tool that you can use EVERY TIME you are affraid to bring down that dear. It's being used to treat veterans with PTSD right now and it's the only treatment that is working for them. It's natural, efficient and easy to do. Give it a try and you'll be amazed at how much you can truly do!
Good luck! Report
This is so true and thank you for sharing this blog with everyone. I know what it is to fight fear. I battle everyday just to breath outside. Life is full of things that scare you to death however one has to decide to fight the internal workings of themselves. I hope that you continue to move forward and live to the fullest. Report
You could have been writing about my life. Good girl, straight A's, too uncoordinated for sports.... The stress was not just internal, though. I remember taking a one-semester art course my freshman year in high school. I knew I was not good at drawing or painting, but I was feeling new freedom in high school and wanted to do something "daring." I got a B in the course; my dad looked at my grades, ignored all the A's, and told me I needed to bring that grade up. Of course, I couldn't because the class was over, but it was the last "daring" thing I did in high school, and the only B. Wonder if that's part of why I have so few good memories of those days. Report
Such a true statement. It is amazing how when we do good we praise ourselves but when we slip we beat ourselves up. Sitting in silence will not help anything the more you speak up the more you will reach and maintain your goals instead of letting them slip away just because you didn't get what you expected. Report
Awesome Blog How true this is. Life is full of ups and downs. God is here to help and see us through our journeys in life. God loves us and only gives us what we can handle. Only God is perfect. No one else. We need to face our fears and live our lifes the best we can. We will never be perfect. Just be the best we can. God Bless You and Have a Wonderful Week. Report
I love this blog. Thank you! Report
If One is afraid of trying he is already sinking himself to negetivity........be fearless and u will find urself in a new world of ur likings.....nothing is perfect in this world we just have to try and do our best all the time...... Report
Thank you for sharing this is a great blog. Report
I am currently avoiding something because I am afraid it will fail, not be good enough, everyone will hate it and so on and so on. It's really sad because I have a successful person trying to help me and I keep avoiding him. I feel like such a failure and don't know why I can't just do the thing and get it over with. This article speaks to me on so many levels. Report
Thank you for sharing, for so many years I let fear stop me from doing so many things that now in hindsight I know I would have loved. Until I had to face change, had to make a decision that would change my life and take a chance that giving my best it would work out. Guess what I did, and it did work out, I learned to stand on my own. Report
Perfect love costs out all fears. I just love it. The word of God shows me every day that he is my strength and refuge. That he loves me with all my short comings and i want to continue to bless others round me. I need to take care of myself and transform my think. I have notice than in the past months I am taking him at his word. Example, with this web site I am writing down how i feel, and it has help me to put things into perspective. I thought that i could not write what was in my heart and mind. But take a look. Funny I can't turn it of nor do I want to.I am dealing with my fears. Report
I think we all have our fears we need to conquer. Especially the ones about making fools of ourselves (every one does this at least once) and the biggest fear, the fear of failing. Thank you for your blog it was very timely. Report
You have no idea how close to home this blog hit! It could've been written by ME!!! I am now 67 and have just begun to venture outside my comfort zone and it's really scary - but so exhilerating when I actually try something new! Thanks for sharing - I don't feel so alone now! Report
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