“It’s not good enough.”
I hear myself saying this (silently, in my head) many times each day. I don’t think of myself as a perfectionist. I’m a terrible housewife. Dinner is not on the table at six-o-clock sharp, and and if you want to try and eat off my floor…well, it certainly would build your immune system. I’m not a perfect mother, either- I do my best, forgive myself the rest, and apologize to my kid when I get it wrong, which happens more frequently than I’d like. I’m not a trim size six- and I have no desire to shoot for that particular goal. I have my cake, and eat it, too- and if you don’t want your slice, I’ll pass it over to me, honey. I’m human, and I’m totally okay with that. Except when it comes to my creative endeavors, what some folks would term “art.”
People who have perfectionist tendencies have a hard time creating art. Nothing is ever ready for primetime. It’s not good enough. There’s always one more edit on that novel, one more pass through Lightroom on that photograph, one more tweak to that recipe that will make it exactly right. Then it will be perfect.
Ah, that word. “Perfect.” It sticks in my craw. It’s something that I’ll never be. Honestly, none of us ever will. I accept that cheerfully in most areas of my life. It’s not the importance of the subject that makes the difference- for me, my most important jobs right now in my life are to be an understanding mother, an inspiring teacher, a supportive wife, and a dependable friend. But I accept that those are complicated endeavors. Why not accept that art is, as well?
It feels more personal, for some reason. Here is a thing that I created almost entirely from scratch, all on my own, straight from my brain, my heart, my soul. And if it isn’t good enough, then… neither am I.
You can make yourself crazy dwelling on this. Yes, the pursuit of mastery in art is worthwhile. Yes, you need study your craft. Yes, practice is the one way to improve and expand your art. But in the meantime, you still have to produce it. And you still need to share it. You aren’t an expert yet, and you need to learn and grow continually, and you will always need to practice, practice, practice- but that doesn’t mean your art isn’t worth sharing. That doesn’t mean it can’t move someone.
I had a change of heart recently. I did a vanity Google search of my name as I do periodically (hush, I know y’all do it, too.) I was shocked that among my blogs and race results and social media profiles, there was a blog post about me, not written by me. The writer indicated how much she enjoyed an essay I wrote that appeared in a book and how much it resonated with her. I was so moved. Overjoyed. And most of all, surprised. I liked that essay, but it certainly wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever written. I was happy to see it in print, but I felt I could have done much better. I should have spent more time on it. I could have improved it so much.
But it was real. It was honest. And it was human. And that was enough, more than enough, to do the thing I have always wanted to do- to move someone with something I’ve created. It didn’t have to be perfect. It was good enough already.
So maybe you aren’t a master yet, but your art is real and honest and human. Put it out there. Share it. Move us.
Photo by me. Tulip courtesy of the discount bucket at Kroger.
Inspiration for the low, low price of $1.00!