As I already mentioned, my inability to communicate effectively with others in conversation is (was), in many ways, tied to my perfectionist traits. After analyzing my deepest fears, I eventually came to the conclusion that I could not tolerate partial success. I could not handle being a mediocre anything.
Any conversation or social interaction had to be perfect. I needed to be seen, and thought of, as perfect. What the hell was that all about?
Of course, this was all down to my low self-esteem. Without self-esteem, I found it difficult to handle the less than perfect moments in life. As far as conversation was concerned, I had to be right on my game – saying the right things, being witty, and never allowing a silent, awkward moment to ruin the whole thing.
This resulted in a less than favorable outward appearance. I was either quiet and depressed looking – afraid to make a move – or I was serious and anxious, as I gathered up the courage to socialize with others. Either way, I certainly was not very friendly looking. Is it any wonder that people always seemed hesitant to fully engage me in real conversation? I felt excluded from all but the most idle, superficial chit-chat. My encounters were limited to: What do you think of that weather?
Obviously, by increasing my self-esteem, I would find conversation easier. However, conversation and general social interaction were needed to make any progress in the area of self-esteem. You cannot simply think your way to self-esteem – it takes real-world practice and feedback to re-program your core beliefs.
It was at this point that I realized I had to dig in and make a start somewhere – even if it was uncomfortable and unfamiliar – In short, I had to let go.
Ok, so letting go for me meant that Id simply have to ignore that powerful inner voice and trust that things would be ok. I would have to accept the good, the bad, and the mediocre. I would have to be prepared to fail, or at least accept far less than perfection. What did I have to lose, anyway? Its not like anyone would lose respect for me – You need to have something in order to lose it, right?
So what was the worst that could happen?
I might make a fool of myself.
People might laugh at me.
They might snicker and talk to their friends about me.
They might think Im weird.
Letting go of this obsession with perfection was difficult. For a socially anxious person with little self-esteem, these were major issues. After spending my life having a zero tolerance for mistakes when it came to socializing, letting go and being comfortable with partial success, and accepting mistakes, was a huge deal.
What would the consequences be? Would I make things worse? Was it possible to lose what little self-esteem I had? There was a lot to consider.
However risky it was, it was the only way out of my vicious circle. By letting go completely, Id either go one way or the other. The experience would either allow me to get a foot in the door of a world most take for granted, or it would cause further damage to my already fragile self-esteem – setting me back months, or even years.
I decided to let go.