A+ Student Syndrome

NOT the perfect apple–or a perfect photo of one, either. But it was a delicious small Honeycrisp, dewy and resting in my sink, juicy and refreshing when finally cut.

I thought this first post was going to be about food. After all, that’s what got me excited about blogging in the first place.

You see, I find myself taking pictures of meals—at home, while I cook and when dishes are completed; out at restaurants, hollering: Wait! I have to get a picture of this first!; over at friends’ houses as they roll their eyes: Don’t put your fork into it yet…hold on…just one shot! Ok, a couple more….

Preparing food is contemplative, and I delight in thinking about the meaning of eating. So I could have started by describing a particular food, a recipe, the importance of local produce or gardening and community—all great subjects.

Then I thought it would be about writing, that I write in order to process the world—which has kept me sane, literally, through the past few years. There’s nothing like the luscious correct word for something, or getting blasted to another time through smells or sounds or an overheard phrase.

Next it struck me this opening post might be about the outdoors, discovering an ecosystem new to me, here in the Adirondacks, Catskills and Berkshires. Exactly how walking is meditative, and yoga keeps my body able to do the hiking and biking I enjoy.

But it seems the voices in my head want to keep me from this initial foray into the e-writing world, with worries about perfection and “getting it just right, first.”

I’ve gnashed my intellectual teeth and wept fearful tears over what to write, how to write it, editing so as to put something really worthwhile out into the world. Which has kept me from starting in the first place–What if it’s a disaster?

Now I know my topic!  Meet a phrase I coined several years ago in my memoir work, though other writers I know have come up with it independently as well:

A+ Student Syndrome.

A+ Student Syndrome says you can never do enough. Period. End of story.

You cannot earn an A because only an A+ is acceptable. How could you think of publishing something that is less than a highly polished pearl of perfection?

Even if you do produce something spectacular, you have to move on without pause to the next job, chore, affirmation of your worth, once you are finished with the one at hand. The internal standards rise with every creation you finish, no matter how good that creation was.

So you get stuck when you want to try something, something you are not sure you will be good enough at.

Stuck big-time.

In my head right now—How many people will comment on the preposition at the end of the sentence up there? Maybe I should fix it. What about my other word choices? Maybe I should move the paragraphs around a little more. Or my photos? Maybe they suck! On the other hand, what if this blog is horribly popular and then I have to keep writing better and better pieces, longer and longer until I don’t have anything interesting left to say? What if people reading this think: Exactly! Already she doesn’t have a damn thing to say!

Are you nodding your head in recognition at that driven self-doubt? I’ll write more about this running life-theme later. But I am going to post my first piece, in spite of my A+ Student Syndrome, in fact because I am recovering from it. Hence the subtitle of this blog: Building a life moment by moment.

There! I have committed to leaping in joyfully and wondrously and knowing I am enough, all by myself, even if my words aren’t flawless, even if a dish flops or I’m not skillful at certain parts of my life.

Fall down—get up. That’s what I am supposed to do. One motion, repeating itself.

Not fall down and berate myself for falling. Not get up and never ever fall down again. Not worry about how to avoid falling at every moment.

Fall down—get up. Gloriously. With style, even. Not worrying about whether it rates an A or a C. Yup, building a life, messy moment by messy moment.

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3 thoughts on “A+ Student Syndrome

  1. Pingback: On fighting perfectionism by daring to be bad | E. P. Beaumont

  2. Pingback: NaNoFeed: Workaholism, sustainability, and toxic standards | E. P. Beaumont

  3. Pingback: NaNoFeed: Some unconventional advice for #NaNoPrep | E. P. Beaumont

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