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I like to say that I am a creative person, but I am not artistic. Some girls like to go shoe shopping, but give me cash and an art store and I am as happy as a clam. I have a craft closet, an art desk, a bookshelf for my planner supplies, boxes of art supplies … ya, it looks like Hobby Lobby threw up in here.
One of my more-recent adventures has been teaching myself to draw and doodle. I LOVED drawing as a child, but I was never that great at it. My mom is an amazing artist, and my scratches next to her professional-quality portraits only served to discourage me. I also used to play the guitar and sing, crochet, write … But I was just ok at all of those things.
So I quit. I got rid of the notebooks and pencils, and stopped doodling in margins. I purged most of my art supplies because, after all, they were just being wasted on my lack-of-talent. The guitar went in the closet. My perfectionism didn’t allow me to enjoy something I wasn’t good at.
I have spent the last couple of years slogging through one creative pursuit after another, quickly discarding the ones I didn’t excel at. I have tried everything, and mastered nothing. I made jewelry, cards, tried some graphic design. I have started writing a million books and finished none. Paralyzed by my desire for perfection.
Perfectionism isn’t a bad thing, at it’s core. Recently research has determined two types of perfectionism – one that stems from psychological issues and causes a negative effect in the perfectionist’s life, and one that is little more than someone who just strives to do their best.
At some point I stopped just trying to do my best, and started trying to be THE best. It’s impossible and illogical that someone would be good at everything, and that’s too much pressure to put on yourself, let alone the other people in your life.
What caused me to be so obsessed with perfection that I just quit participating? If I were to sit in my psychiatrist armchair, I would venture to guess that it stems from insecurity. A feeling of worthlessness that causes me to overcompensate in virtually every area of my life. Or maybe it gave me a sense of security; if I am the best then I don’t need anyone else.
My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it. – Brennan Manning
I know that I am not the only person paralyzed by their obsession with perfection. I have a friend who is a wonderful mom, but her Facebook feed is filled with self-loathing about not doing enough, not being enough. I can’t tell you how many of my blogging friends have quit because their views weren’t where they thought they should be, or because they weren’t as successful as someone else as quickly.
I would encourage you to pull out the sketchbook – whatever incarnation that may take in your life. Don’t be afraid to doodle deer that look like fat dogs with tiny heads (and definitely don’t be afraid to publish them in a blog post …). I had a great time doodling those funny-looking deer, and I plan to indulge myself in time to do things I enjoy, and not be afraid to fail.
I’m not perfect – at ANYTHING – but at the end of the day, I don’t need to be. Life is pretty darn good, failures and all.