Beth P.

Perfection is such a loaded word for me. The idea of perfection paralyzed me for years. If I thought something I was going to do would not turn out perfectly then I would usually not bother doing it at all. The risk of failure or imperfection was too great.

I have done a lot of emotional and mental work over the years to figure out why I held myself to such a high standard. With some very good help, I’ve been able to leave most of that oppressive pressure behind and let myself risk and potentially fail. When Jane suggested that we imagine what perfection looks like, I knew that I would need a different word to describe that feeling of knowing something is right and working.  “Perfection” raises too much negativity for me. I think my word is “completion” – looking at a work and knowing that it no longer “needs something” (or less of something) and that the composition, color, line, balance, etc. all work harmoniously.

In making my lists, I rated my skill levels from 1 to 10 (1 being low skill, 10 being expert skill). The only things I rated a “10” were cooking and fabric painting. There were some 9’s, but I still haven’t mastered those skills. So, I thought about why I confidently rated cooking and fabric painting a 10 and the common thread was that I have done those things A LOT. I have cooked practically every day for decades and when I was painting fabrics to sell I was painting for hours a day. I practiced these things, but I did not think of it as practice. It was just “what I do”. I don’t think about being perfect when I perform those tasks because I know what I am doing. It was a bit of a light bulb moment for me to understand that. Is every meal I make perfect? No. Was every piece of fabric I ever painted perfect? No. Do I fall apart or want to stop doing those things when the result is not exactly what I want? No. I just keep at it the next day and the next day. I can apply this to everything! It seems so obvious, but I’m not sure that I was in just the right head space to get it until now.

I’m really quite psyched about this exercise because for years I have worried about experimenting and practicing because it might potentially RUIN the materials I’m using and waste them. I see now that if I am to advance in my skill creation I have to PRACTICE. And more importantly, I WANT to practice because I can see where having skill mastery can take me – Completion/Perfection/Whatever We Want to Call It. Yippee!