A little goes a long way

I’ve told this story so many times in different contexts. When I was in kindergarten, we were supposed to paint self portraits on A3 papers. They were to fill the whole paper, which was a struggle for me as I usually drew and painted things very small, leaving a lot of white space on most papers.

That day, I refused. For context, I was a very kind child. I always did as I was told, never had any fights with caretakers nor friends. This was definitely abnormal on my part.

I waited until the others had finished painting, then took a lap around to look at them, and finally started painting. When mom came to pick me up, I’d told her that it was because I didn’t want to make any mistakes. I obviously don’t remember this myself, but it’s what I’ve been told.

The all or nothing mentality has followed me through life in different ways, and in some different shapes. I’ve been reluctant to do things I don’t already know how to do, in fear of doing them wrong.

Most of those ideas and thoughts are in the past, I’ve developed ways to do things imperfectly and even try new things out. It’s been a ride and it hasn’t been easy.

The other day, i noticed one of those thoughts popping up again, one of the all or nothing ones.

I had overslept for the first time in some time, and I found myself thinking “Well, I’ve lost 2 hours of this day, maybe I shouldn’t even bother getting up from bed at all.”

To me, it’s obvious that the oversleeping thought is the same kind as the “I won’t paint until everyone else is done” — they’re both on the all or nothing spectrum. Binary. Without nuance and reason.

When I overslept for school, I didn’t go. Mostly because it was a sign of me getting sick, I rarely oversleep otherwise, but also because it wasn’t worth it. I’ve practiced being late to all kinds of things, just to see what reactions I get, and found that it’s not the end of the world. People understand.

That’s one of the most important teachings I have from this mindset struggle. Nothing is rarely better than some. A little of most things goes a long way, and as long as I show up, I can give a little.

Do stuff.

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