When I was younger, I studied ballet. By the time high school rolled around, I was spending 16 hours a week at the ballet studio, and that number would easily double when we were getting ready for performances. I wanted to be a prima ballerina and I poured most of my free time into preparing for that goal.
Then one day, I looked in the studio mirror and realized I wasn’t the best dancer in my company. I was technically proficient and extremely graceful, but there were at least two other girls who made me look like I had never taken a dance class in my life. These girls were exquisite, and a part of me knew that I would never be the prima ballerina as long as they were dancing.
So, I quit.
After 13 years of eating, studying, training, and living the life of a ballerina, I walked away from all of it without any notice.
I rarely talk about my time studying ballet because I am embarrassed by how it all ended. I can’t believe that I was so arrogant as to believe that if I wasn’t the best, I wanted nothing to do with it.
What surprises me, though, is how often I turn to this flawed logic. Maybe you do the same thing? I didn’t take up running until my mid-30s because I knew I was a slow runner. It never crossed my mind that I might run for some reason other than winning a race. I never thought about the benefits of the exercise, how good I would feel while running, and that I might love running just for the sake of running. I missed out on decades of running because I wasn’t going to be the best runner. Ugh.
I run into this type of all-or-nothing absolutist thinking a great deal when talking to people about uncluttering. They see it as a dichotomy where a person will either be organized or disorganized. They don’t try to get even a little clutter out of their lives because they can’t get all clutter removed. They know that the prima Unclutterers will always be “better,” so they don’t try at all.
The humbling truth of the matter is that there will always be someone who is better at doing something than you are. Thankfully, uncluttering isn’t a competition and it doesn’t require you to be the best. It doesn’t matter if someone does it better than you do. You don’t get rid of clutter for someone else, you get rid of it for you. Comparing yourself to another person is unnecessary; you only need to look at your life and your needs to decide what is best for you.