I Ate the Cake: Making it Too Big

So, given the title of my blog, is it a surprise that I procrastinated on my first blog post? My inner perfectionist was perched on the corner of my desk, her little half-glasses sliding down her nose at me (she looks very much like my fifth-grade teacher), saying, “You have to do it right.” Is there a right way to write a blog post? I asked this question of my wonderful mentor Jenna Avery, and she said, “Don’t try to get it right — just be authentic.” Ahhhhh. What a relief. Wanting to do it right stops me in my tracks way too often. I want to do relationships right, I want to do writing right, I want to do coaching right, I want to choose exactly the right brand of cat litter, and I want do it all at exactly the right time. Then I screw a lot of it up anyway, and most of my screw-ups end up leading me exactly where I need to be. (More on this is a future post.)

When I was in the wake of my inner perfectionist wanting to “do it right,” I became intensely overwhelmed, and my inner procrastinator took over. This is usually what happens. My inner perfectionist and my inner procrastinator have a highly symbiotic relationship. They’re like two kids on a see-saw and when one flies up into the air, the other plunks down hard on the grass and says “Ouch!” The perfectionist wants so badly to do it right, and is so married to its perfect vision, that before I know it it has severely overwhelmed me. Now everything seems insurmountable, and this is where the procrastinator comes in to take over. “Screw it,” says the procrastinator. “It’s too hard and it’s not worth the trouble. And by the way, I’m feeling really sleepy.”

When my inner procrastinator (who is a silky, shape-shifting, slug-like creature who just wants to lie down all the time) took the reins the other day, I found myself on the sofa watching Netflixed episodes of “Big Love” while eating an enormous amount of pink frosting off a chocolate cake. This could have been a highly enjoyable way to spend a Tuesday night if I hadn’t been doing it to try to go unconscious, to distract myself from my guilt about what I wasn’t doing. And why hadn’t I done it? Because I’d made it too big, too hard, and I didn’t know how to do it “right.”

So I backed up, a lot. I broke things down into small steps, “turtle steps” as Martha Beck calls them (SARK refers to them as “micromovements”). In fact, I recently completed life coach training with the fabulous Martha Beck, but how quickly I forgot about turtle steps. Actually, the truth is, I didn’t forget about them. It’s just that my inner perfectionist doesn’t have time to break things down into turtle steps! I’ll never get anywhere that way! In fact, for me, making things “too big” is a great way to never get anywhere. Making things too big is a great way for me to drown in the sea of overwhelm.

So this is it. This is my first blog post. It feels a little truncated to me (is that my perfectionist talking?), but it is what it is. I made it “small” enough to get it written. In my next article, I’ll go into more depth about how I get myself to the point where I’m drowning in the sea of  overwhelm, and how I get myself out. And the next time I eat the pink frosting off a chocolate cake, I promise myself, and you, that I will be present for every second of it.

18 thoughts on “I Ate the Cake: Making it Too Big

  1. Jill, this is powerful, pure, and compelling post. Many congratulations for getting it onto the page and making it so real and true to you. I know other perfectionists and procrastinators like me will be relieved to read your inspiring and validating stories and insights. You rocked this. xoxo, Jenna


  2. I can SO identify. I look forward to reading more posts. I have learned to never start my blog posts with an apology about why I haven’t written. It’s irrelevant…I’m writing now.


  3. Reading your first entry brought to mind a touching portion of tonight’s Glee episode. Rachel sang a heartfelt song called “Get it Right.” One of the lyrics of the song was “what can you do when your good isn’t good enough?…” Woah. This was sung from a teenager’s point of view, but really, a certain perfectionism and sense of inadequacy plagues many of us. (It just plagued me momentarily as I was typing this. I wasn’t sure if I should post the word “woah” as I wasn’t sure how to spell it. But then… I went for it anyway, INSTEAD of hitting the delete button. There is hope! 😉

    Jill, here’s to being kind to yourself while you continue to navigate the journey. Allow yourself the pink frosting- and pat yourself on the back that you started this great blog and wrote a beautiful post!


    • Danielle, thanks for your wonderful thoughts and I’m so happy you stopped by! I love that you posted the word “woah” even though you didn’t know how to spell it (is there a “right” way to spell it? 😉 ). What an apt tie-in with the “Glee” episode, and thank you for reminding me to allow myself the pink frosting!


  4. Jill, I enjoyed reading your first blog post and can really relate to what you have said about perfectionism and procrastination!


  5. I will be back for more adventures of these twin evils – procrastination and perfectionism! Good stuff Jill.


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