There is nothing more boring than perfectionism. 

When we are witness to someone in it’s grasp, we feel antsy on they’re behalf as we listen to the whiny, nit-picking, self-negating loop they’re stuck in, wishing so badly they’d just fucking get on with it.

When we ourselves experience perfectionism, we inevitably become shut down, and wish we’d had more empathy for our colleague. 

Perfectionism denies the fact that no one can live up to an unrealized outcome in the imagination, at least not completely…perfectionism holds us hostage by convincing us that completion is settling somehow….  

BAWW-ring.

I feel bored just writing about perfectionism. 

Have you ever been in the presence of someone for whom something is never good enough? They are harsh critics of others, and often have little to no work to show for themselves. I’ve had several teachers like that. They are to blame for the terrible adage ‘Those who can’t, teach’. 

Which is a lie.

What I have seen, and what accounts for that adage, are those who teach but have stopped exploring creatively themselves. I sense that these ‘mentors’ suffer from a self-defeating kind of grandiosity that will not allow them to make necessary messes…and can actually be a danger to their students when they shame them for making a mess themselves…or for ‘selling out’ to commercial interests professionally. 

Grandiosity is a hallmark of perfectionism. The fear of being ordinary can keep us completely invisible.  But which is worse? Invisibility or being an ‘ordinary’, but visible creator?

What I encourage my clients to make friends with is the idea that creating a body of work is as good or better than being a one-hit wonder.  The cycle we must embrace as creatives is this: get an idea, mess around, redo, redo, complete, share with the world…and start all over again. It’s only human to think that a particularly large project should be the key to the Emerald City, that suddenly doors will fling open and the powers that be will clamor to elevate us forever more. Seasoned creatives know that while they may have that fantasy, they must separate from it and let go of expectations in terms of a work’s reception in order to grow beyond it.

This is easier said than done, and is why, as a friend of mine says: ‘We artists have to have each other’s backs.’ 

What that looks like is leaving the comfort of your home to support someone else’s work. I don’t do that often enough, but it matters terribly. So often I am moved by the nobility of a creative friend who might say just after a showing of their work and with self-deprecating humor: ‘It’s been a seven year journey. And its finally happened. Yet nothing has changed.’

But it has. Something unique and life affirming has been brought into the world. No one is the same once they have witnessed it, whether they know it or not. You are not the same having given it existence. 

When you finish something, you are more than you were. 

Keep going, and finish, my friend. Then, begin again…

Starting now, firmly renounce letting perfectionism hold your creativity hostage.