Last week Quinn McDonald published The Pull of Inner Critic and Inner Hero and it really got me thinking. I’ve known for some time that my strengths are also a kind of curse: I guess if you build a strong fortress, then when you are under siege you’re a prisoner in a jail of your own making.
It took a long time to realise that my being a ‘mucker’ (my uncle’s nickname for me), always exploring and trying new things, never settling on anything for long, made me incredibly versatile. It took time too to realise that being a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none wasn’t as demeaning as it sounds, because that reframes as being versatile as well. These dubious titles led to me developing the belief that if someone else can do whatever, the chances are I can.
So this versatility, this confidence that I can do just about anything I want, how is that a curse? It’s a curse because I want to do everything and I want to do it now and I want to do it perfectly! And no surprises, that plan just isn’t working out well!
That aspect of my versatile Inner Hero that says “Of course you can!” is countered by the damnable Inner Critic who provides a smorgasbord of possibilities and as a consequence I’m stunned like a possum in a cars headlights.
Tammy Garcia once wrote ‘much better to start late than never begin at all’ which eventually gave me the blog name, Late Start Studio. And yes, I’m starting late, and I know I don’t have to catch up I just have to start but oh, I want to catch up! And I want to be a master of something! But what? Here I am, stunned, frozen, telling myself “just to something!” Anything! Just pick something and DO IT! But one day I make some crazy stuffed creature, or a little soft sculpture, or paint a page in my journal, make another stencil or stamp or pencil-case or . . . you get the picture.
Versatile Inner Hero on one hand, Inner Critic spilling out all the options like the contents of a suitcase on the other. I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a Master Mucker!
Those who wait for every little thing to be perfect before they embark on a project or who dislike the compromise of a partial solution are among the least happy. Ideal circumstances are seldom given to anyone for an undertaking.
Deng Ming-Dao: 365 Daily Meditations, p.295