Perfection: Or, How I Learned to be a Sloppy Housewife
The other day I was looking at my dirty floor and saying to myself for the umpteenth time, "I should really mop this floor."
(Stick with me, it gets better.)
The resistance I always have to mopping my floor is confusing. I had a clean floor waiting for me at the finish line, so I should have been motivated enough. For the moment, however, all that work looked daunting. But the fact that a friend was coming over meant that I was in the home stretch...I either did something right away, or I did nothing. So the moment came....my 2 year old had finally gone down for her nap. I said to myself "Something is better than nothing, right. I'll just do a quick job over the heavy traffic areas. I won't spend much time on it." In other words, I let go of my expectations for a perfect result. I grabbed a mop and hot water and began quickly, and sloppily, cleaning the floor.
(Trust me, this does relate to art.)
Mopping was easier, and faster than I thought once I got into it. My floor was smaller than I remembered. I was efficient - mostly due to the time crunch - but most importantly, I was encouraged by the results while they were happening. What do you know.....that floor looked pretty good! Mission Accomplished.
So why did I procrastinate for so long? PERFECTIONISM.
At the very start of the creative process (Okay, this relates to art now!), I often run into the paralysing Fear of the White Page. The ever-familiar face of Artist's Block. Your confidence is sapped by questions like, "Does my subject matter relate to anything?" "Has this been done before, but better?" "Will warm colors work?" "Will this look as good as my preliminary sketch does?" Fear takes hold because you want this work to be the BEST. WONDERFUL. PERFECT. That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself! And there are times when that pressure STOPS you.
These are the times to throw perfectionism out on its ear.
These are the times when it might be helpful to repeat the following seemingly unreasonable affirmations:
I will make something
now, even though I don't feel prepared.
Of course, you won't create garbage. You are incapable, really, of making anything truly awful....you've been working too hard at this for too long. Once you see what's happening the process will inspire you. These "un-affirmations" will free you to produce something at the very least. And, paradoxically, without pretension, expectation, or pressure, in a mental environment of Freedom...without Perfectionism.....you might make something even better than before.
You might even create your next Masterpiece.
-- Leah Jakusovszky is not a writer, nor is she an art expert, but she is great at throwing paint at paper with complete disregard for the result.