“Every artist was first an amateur” -Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m always trying to create the perfect content, but at best it turns out mediocre. Yes, I am being hard on myself because I suffer from a bad case of perfectionism. Many people today don’t consider perfectionism a flaw. We even tend to see it as a virtue. Being a perfectionist means we have high standards. That we’re good at what we do. That we always do our best. The problem is what to do when we’re not able meet our own high standards. Do we just give up? Or never try at all? I think perfectionism is just a fancy form of fear, fear of not being good enough, and that we use it as an excuse to not get things done. Telling ourselves that we will wait until everything is perfect before we do that thing we’ve put off for so long, sounds better than admitting that we really are scared to death. I once heard Elisabeth Gilbert call perfectionism a “haute couture version of fear.” That’s exactly what it is. We’re not perfectionists really, we’re just afraid of making an ass out of ourselves.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong in striving to do our best, I think we all should, but I also think it’s important to acknowledge that our best today might not be as good as we want it to be. However that does not make us any less worthy, it just means we need more practice. The real perfectionists are those who sit down everyday with the small, seemingly unimportant tasks, and practice mastering their skills with patience and without judgement. However today most people are too impatient and want to leap all the way to the top the moment they start something new. We tend to compare ourselves to the top people in our field, at least I know I do, and when we feel we don’t measure up it’s easy to get discouraged and give up. This is not fair on our part, and it is not a good recipe for success. We all have to start somewhere. To learn, grow and get better at things we have to try, and we have to fail. That’s just the way it is. I think this is a very important thing to understand. To really master an art you have to start where you are, even if that is terrible, or worse, mediocre. Failure does not feel comfortable, but mistakes can in fact be our best teachers. If we start paying attention we can learn what to do different the next time. If you never try, you’ve already failed, so you might as well just do it. I believe that to be truly successful, you have to put your perfectionism (fear of failure) aside. As one of my favorite ladies these days Brené Brown says,”There is no innovation and creativity without failure. Period.”