I am letting perfectionism go, bit by bit.
I wonder, does perfectionism actually even serve a purpose? I think in some ways it has truly held me back, but, maybe in some ways, it drove me on. Perhaps it’s the hope of meeting aspirations that might be “good,” but there is always the linked idea with perfectionism that you can never achieve it completely. We eternally strive for it, yet also intuitively know it cannot be achieved. It is completely detrimental to creative expression. Perfectionism has kept me from doing or “finishing” so many things in my life. Liz Gilbert actually talks about this handicap of perfectionism in her book, Big Magic. What imprisons
our creativity, is the idea that we will be judged negatively if we submit incomplete or imperfect works. Liz writes, “A good-enough novel violently written now is better than a perfect novel meticulously written never.” It's about the passion of creation and not at all about the perfection of the creation.
What are aspirations meant to do anyway? Why do we have them to begin with? At first, they are our creative sparks lighting us up from within. Then, if we act on them, they become the concepts and the works we fashion. Lastly, if we come to this point, we share them with the world. Yet most of us only gift the world what we think the world will value. We are not the ones valuing our creative works at all. In all of the other steps, however, we are the decision-makers. WE decide what we share, how we share it, and when. WE decide what we create and how far we go with it. We are the Creator. Yet, we allow the world to tell us if it has value? It seems to me, the decisions all lie with us, from beginning to end of creation, from the spark of inspiration all the way to the setting of its worth. Maybe, in this way, the “value” of it becomes a moot point, because in creation itself we receive its worth. The world can respond to it and see its worth as it likes. Our process of creating something has nothing at all to do with how the world values it.
In a way, we struggle against the universal human law that “Nothing is ever perfect.” This law both frees us from perfection, because it isn’t possible, and also allows us to leave a project unfinished, if we so choose. WE have the choice of how far we go with any inspiration we receive. We are the Creator. We can also choose to leave it and come back to it minutes, hours, days or years later. We are the Creator.
During the Romantic literary period, authors purposefully left their works as fragments. Their intention was to mimic the classical ruins of Greece and medieval Europe but also to reflect nature in their poetry. Each of these things was in an “imperfect” state. They played with imagination and the idea that the story was on-going; it had not yet reached its completion. The fragment evoked a creative response in the reader, just as nature did, to fill in the story with your own imagination to inspire creation in the other. They wished to embrace the continual process of creation through the ideas of both imagination and a collective unity of creation. If the story was left without an end, the reader could continue the story as they chose.
The question of open-ended creation, to me, speaks to the idea that we do not need all the answers - the perfect painting, the perfect meal or song, or home - we simply need to express ourselves in the moment when we are inspired to do so, leaving the possibility of growth, change and communion with the world in our self-expression, and if others wish to participate in our creation, the door is open to do so.
Perfectionism is like labels, it locks us into one way of expression and blinds us to expansion through limitless possibilities. Opening our creative works to imperfection allows them to live and breathe, and continue eternally in the world.
Be you. Be free. Be brave. Be the Creator, you are meant to be.