It’s only recently that I’ve realised that there was a perfectionist lurking inside of me.
I still have doubts that it’s perfectionism. The irony of this is I have spent the past 30mins trying to write one sentence. Anchoring on to one word, not allowing myself to move on until it is………..perfect!
Looking back, I can highlight many an opportunity I didn’t take which I could put down to being a perfectionist. I rarely put myself forward or start something new – for fear of not being good enough.
I initially thought that this was a fear of criticism or rejection. As putting myself out there leaves me an easy target to be judged. Plus, I have a high expectation of the way things should be – especially me.
Perfectionism stalls creativity and as I’ve chosen to embark on a path where writing is my main focus, I can’t continue my relationship with this dangerous illusion. I’m ready to stop:
- Berating myself at the end of each day due to not working to my full potential
- Taking hours to write and rewrite my blog, editing commas and changing the structure
- Storing ideas in my mind as ‘there’s no point starting them as they won’t be perfect’
It is tiresome.
I had recently come across the act of Wab-Sabi, which is a Japanese tradition of accepting imperfections. I loved the sound of this and promised to find out more about the lifestyle. Only I didn’t. I continued to fret, to stall, to compare and to live unrealistically.
That was until I received an invitation to be imperfectly perfect. Not once but twice this week!
The Youth Centre
I look down at the paper and ……..nothing! Looking to others for nature inspiration was a mistake. Seeing their pencils barely leave the page – leaves, trees, foliage! I felt so inadequate that I took to having a silent conversation with myself.
‘What do leaves look like? How do I draw a flower?’
My mind was as blank as the paper in front of me. *note to self. When struggling to meditate remember this moment.
I pushed myself and drew the most basic looking leaf I could think of, then a simple flower. As my confidence started to peep through I started to experiment, which left a mess on my paper and me looking for an eraser. Could I tell the art teacher that a child had sneaked in when she left the room and doodled on my paper?
“That’s a really interesting shape – you should use that” proclaimed the teacher, throwing me out of my ridiculous plotting.
I was alarmed that she was pointing at the childlike scrawl I had tried to hide. I was further alarmed that my two simple ‘perfect’ pictures were cascaded aside, allowing space for the drawings I had been embarrassed by.
I loved the screen print that we’d created. I took the photo as a reminder that imperfections can be be a work of art, depending on who is looking at it.
The Writer’s Workshop
“I want you all to write whatever comes into your head. It doesn’t have to make sense, don’t think about it just write. I’m going to put five minutes on the timer. Go!”
Aaah just writing words, not thinking about the structure, where a full stop should go. This was hard. I started writing, focusing on objects in my vicinity which made me realise I was playing small – safe. I finally let my pen take over, only stopping when the alarm rang out.
The next instruction was to highlight five of the words. I chose words I wouldn’t normally use, unaware of what we were going to be doing with them:
Primate, Moonshine, Chiselled, Harboured, Density
“Write a poem using your selected five words.”
The rules: Three words per line. One of your chosen words in each line. Five minutes.
I really enjoyed this process. It was the quickest poem I had ever written. It didn’t mean anything but it made perfect sense as I read it out to the rest of the group. I was proud with my imperfectly perfect poem.
After the lessons this week, I feel more confident to just get out there and do it.
Picasso was estimated to have produced 50,000 pieces of artwork in his lifetime! 50,000! There must have been a massive percentage which he thought were below par but yet he still produced.
I’m going to be my own Picasso – who knows what may come of it?
Have you got examples of how you tackle perfectionism?
p.s. if you’ve liked this or any of my other posts, I would be grateful if you could give them a share.