Perfection, Success, and Fear.

Is there perfection? Is perfection the only acceptable outcome? Am I acceptable at all if I am not perfect?

Maybe seeking perfection is the goal I set for myself, so that I have a challenge to aspire to. Maybe perfection is set entirely out of pure fear. Fear of failure. Fear of not winning a job. Fear of not living up to friend's expectations. Survival instincts. I want to be the best, so that I will be able to succeed and win that job, so that people will accept and admire me. 

Part of this desire for perfection is probably brought on by the sheer competitiveness of the music field. There are very few jobs available, and if I am not one of the best, I don't get a job. Simple math.  

Part of it could be the fact that I am a foreigner who in the past did not comprehend the language or customs, and therefore was not able to belong in the general group.

Or maybe it was just the very real need to survive in a foreign country. To be able to stay in America, I had to acquire a green-card, for which I had to prove that I was ''irreplaceable'' in my field of work... again, the very real need to ''be the best to survive.''

Most of it was probably beat into me early on by a somewhat demanding and strict father. The fear of disappointing must have been so strong, that it has lingered throughout my life, both as a student and as an adult/professional.

Working out of fear makes me toil for endless hours. It gives me a good, solid, consistent outcome. But it weakens my spirit. 

When my motivation comes out of fear, the result is that no matter how hard I work, I always feel bad about myself at the end. Even if I have a successful outcome, it is never good enough. If I have a job somewhere, I could always have a better job somewhere else... If I miss one question out of an entire exam, I beat myself over that one mistake. If I havee an average speed in a race, it is certainly embarrassing. Not smart enough, not fast enough, not strong enough, not good enough. 

What is it that makes me constantly beat myself up? Is it fear of not being able to achieve unless I suffer? The dread that if I let myself relax, and feel good from an achievement, I will become lazy? Or is it that I like to push myself, challenge myself, but have only learned to do so by beating myself up instead of trusting myself?
This dilemma became all of a sudden clear today, as I challenged myself to a long run: how do I push myself, and yet be gentle with myself? That seemed impossible, since pushing has always meant beating myself up to a pulp. 

So in running today, as my legs started to get tired, I decided to tell myself ''trust myself, trust my legs, they can do it,'' as opposed to the ''you can never get past this mileage, this is where you always hurt...'' and ''you need to go faster.''
Didn't push too hard, just listened to my body and kept pace with it. I ended up doing the miles just fine. Instead of pushing and punishing, I pushed and listened. 

Maybe the key to success, for me, is to be able to be in tune with myself, which makes thoughts of what others may think vanish. Concentrate on my legs, and be grateful to them for taking me to all these incredible places. Concentrate on my arms, on my body, and see what they can do. 

Smile, and let myself take pleasure not only in the process of work, practice, study and training... but in the outcome as well. 

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