The voice of the oppressor

The world doesn’t exactly suffer from a shortage of oppression.

Of course there are two fundamental types: the kind that is foisted upon us and the kind we (often unconsciously) direct against ourselves. We can argue about which is worse, but it’s not hard to see which should be easier to combat.

The former has many sources–a quest for power or money, an irrational need for control, and so on. Sometimes by holding our ground, by setting boundaries, by enlisting the support of others, we can stand successfully against our oppressor.

In the latter case, we are the enemy and, most often, our fear-based perfectionism is the dragon we have to slay; it’s the demon that keeps us from putting our best thoughts, our new product, our art–or whatever it is that we ought to ship–out into the world.

I like what Anne Lamott has to say about this in her book Bird by Bird:

Perfection is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.