Sometimes I accidentally put things off. The shoulder-perched angel/devil, Smeagol/Gollum, eat the raw cookie dough/eat ANYTHING else conflict constantly runs through me. Cleaning my desk before starting a project, finishing the project before eating, checking Richard Madden’s Instagram before organizing my closet….
Recently, I’ve learned my reptile/monkey brain is making me do it on purpose. The monkey has been avoiding the discomfort of being substandard and risking rejection which threatens the monkey’s (or my) existence.
Yesterday, I was sitting in the front yard of my childhood home listening to the podcast Thrive by Design. The host Tracy Matthews is opening a business class and I wanted to join. Branding, a product and (she chuckled) a website are a minimum to apply. I have been belly-aching about my website for months but it was not done because it was not perfect. Then she asked -
What excuse are you using to hold yourself back?
It hit me. I realized my expectations had gone through the roof. Lifelong procrastination due to lifelong perfectionism due to lifelong fear. I had been hiding under the shiny cloak of high standards which was really a high-school mentality of worrying about what others think. But high school is seriously like way over.
And after having just given my family my 4,000,000th rant about sexism, I realized that I was definitely held back by others 30 years ago. But that was no excuse to hold myself back now.
In the last 30 years, I have also learned some very cool stuff, mostly through Art History. (Wake up. I said “Art History” and you started to nod off).
Ancient women knew they had to fight to survive.
Villa Borghese in Rome houses Bernini’s sculpture of Daphne turning herself into a laurel tree to get away from Apollo. Her fingers and toes delicately transform into growing leaves and roots. She had found the perfect escape and laurels came to symbolize victory. That was a few thousand years ago and our idea of fighting off sexual assault has changed, but many of us have been in Daphne’s position at some point. Bernini made something superb out of a disturbing, familiar story.
Women have long taken measures to keep themselves strong. Ancient Roman, Viking and Slavic women would wore small moon-shaped amulets to protect against evil. Lunar symbols have given women strength for centuries and across cultures.
Women have a deep common history.
Our lives are often stories of being held back, discouraged, denied, dismissed by the powers that be. Anita Hill and Dr. Ford have shown us we aren’t as far from Daphne as we would like to be. We need to keep going. And if we can’t do the tiny tasks, we won’t be able to tackle the big problems.
Within three hours of listening to the podcast, I photographed some pieces and launched my site.
It isn’t perfect. And OMG that’s like totally ok.