Do you check your work a thousand times before you let others see it?
Do you find yourself delaying your plans and projects because they’re not yet exactly as you want?
Are you trying to be perfect?
The noise of the morning show is in the background. They are discussing women’s shoes. “They’re perfect”, she says, “There’s nothing like it”. It gets me thinking about perfection. And my belief that there really is nothing like it.
When we strive for perfection, we fail, but only 100% of the time!
It feels like it was a hundred years ago. About 3 o’clock in the morning and I was sitting at my desk in my draughty apartment near the university.
The window frames and door in my room were so old that no matter what I did I could not get warm in the winter nor stay cool in the summer. I was sitting at my desk wearing 3 sweaters, a woolly hat, scarf and finger-less gloves.
My books were spread out in front of me and around my chair on the floor.
It may be a familiar scene. You remember those ‘all-nighters’ having to get the paper finished by 10am the next morning. Weeks of work crammed into one caffeine filled night!
But I was stuck. It wasn’t that I had not written a paper. It was that it was not good enough.
I was a reasonably good student. I took my work seriously but not too seriously that I would miss a chance to go out with friends!
When it came to deadlines, I always met them. Sleep was less important, if something needed to be submitted, I would work all night if necessary and get it finished.
This time was different. I had done the work, I had researched the topic, I had written the paper. It was a creative piece in my English Literature studies and it simply was not good enough.
By 4am I was really desperate, not only was the work ‘not good enough’ but I had no idea what to do to make it better and I was running out of time.
I stood up to stretch considering yet another cup of coffee, trying to figure out what more I could do on the paper; but ended up lying on the couch for just a moment. Of course, I fell asleep and woke up at 9:15 am.
You know the rest of the story. I handed in the paper as was, I had no choice and I feared the worst. Of course, I got a completely reasonable grade and passed the course with flying colors!
Years later, I understood that my striving for perfection was only hurting me. Trying to be perfect is incredibly debilitating. When we self-judge negatively we end up producing nothing.
That’s not to say that we should not have standards and high expectations. I believe that we should all do our best work and as often as possible.
But perfection is a dangerous goal. It can never be reached and only leaves us feeling frustrated, unproductive and empty.
Next time you feel like your creative work is just not good enough. Stop. Take a walk, maybe even fall asleep. But once you’ve taken some distance, wake up to the knowledge that it is more than good enough. It is wonderful.
It is exactly what you needed to create in that moment. You are everything you need to be.
No one else can tell your story better than you. You are the expert in your own life and will always be. Wake up and shine!© Copyright 2011 Lisa Bloom