I've always liked my thoughts to be orderly and well-constructed, whether written or spoken. It used to be that, when sitting down to write a rough draft of a paper, it would take me hours - literally, hours of painful contemplation - before I could even put a few words down. The first paragraph often took me nearly as long to compose as the entire remainder of my paper. Very rarely did I do extensive revisions of my first draft, because I felt I had to do it right the first time. I'd correct a few spelling errors, rearrange a few sentences, add a few quotes or points here, take a statement out there, and Voila!, I was done.
The same was true of my speaking. I use the past tense because I've gotten a little bolder (though, equally, perhaps less careful) with my words over the years. I think before I speak, but I also jump in with my thoughts and opinions much more quickly than I did in my younger days. When I was younger, I'd listen to a conversation, trying to arrange my thoughts in the best way possible, and by the time I did, the moment had often passed. Conversation moved on, and I kept my lips shut, trying to keep up with it.
As I write these thoughts, it occurs to me: I've grown more confident in my skin over the years, less bound to the idea of perfection (though it certainly still raises its annoying head), less likely to second-guess my words (though I can still go back and replay things over and over again), less in need of pleasing everyone (though I sometimes worry too much about offending with my honesty). It also occurs to me that this aversion to free-flowing thought and spontaneous writing can be, well, a hindrance. Perhaps even a control issue, fighting against myself, instead of letting go. When I don't know what to write or what to say, I'd rather clam up then open up and let the thoughts flow freely, untamed. And then I think, perhaps I am really not much of a reformed perfectionist. Better than I was, I suppose, with lots and lots of room to grow.
If I lived in the same manner I wrote, I would still be relying too heavily on that illusive "perfect" construction of words and ideas into sentences, into paragraphs, into chapters, into a story, instead of letting myself bump along with the river current and settle in for the ride.