Is anyone else out there an unknowing perfectionist? I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needed “perfection” in the things that I do. My apartment is normally a mess, my organizational skills leave much to be desired, and if you’ve seen my handwriting you’d see how good of a third example this is. But what I’ve failed to realize is that in some ways I am a perfectionist, just in a different sense.
For several years, I was a YouTube Creator. I put videos out on a near-daily basis as I progressed through high school. I even made some cash from it. Looking back at the videos… they were bad. Not gonna lie. However, I greatly enjoyed my work and built a small following off my exploits. I even made enough money to buy half of my first car. Shoutout to mom and dad for the rest.
Fast-forward to today, and my creative output has been… lacking. I’ve created and scrapped several videos, started blogs and never published to them (hi!), and had countless ideas for side projects that I’ve started and quit. I saw myself as a quitter, someone who couldn’t follow through. And perhaps there is truth to that. But as I try to be more gracious with myself and learn from others, I’m seeing now that the reason for my lack of output wasn’t just lack of motivation (if that at all). It was my own fear. Fear of putting something out there that’s subpar. I’m afraid of being a beginner again.
The inability to start as a beginner is extremely limiting. The most popular content out there is often the most refined and polished version of what a particular creator has been working on for years. Content-survivorship-bias leads us to only see the good stuff. How many people have seen the early, shoddy work of a creator you look up to? During the first 1-2 years of my YouTube career, I made terrible videos. Luckily, almost nobody watched them! I distinctly remember being excited when I reached 100 views. On a video. I’m convinced that nobody remembers my early work, and I find that incredibly refreshing. So here I am, making a blog post that I don’t think anyone will read. And that’s ok. I’m not writing for people, I’m writing for me.
Today, I’m ok with publishing mediocre content (👋). As long as I learn and grow, the next thing I create will be better. But if I wait until I can create this finely tuned gem of a project on my first try, that day will never come.
I haven’t read them yet, but The War of Art & Paul Graham’s essay Early Work seem like good next places to go.