If you’ve read anything else on this blog, you will likely know that I have a bit of an issue with perfectionism – I struggle when things are imperfect.
Actually, I think a lot of people do. I think it’s symptomatic of an age of airbrushing and increasingly ridiculous expectations.
Nowhere is my need for perfection more apparent than in my creative work – my creative journaling, my painting, my writing.
Visual journaling is a real challenge for me because it’s supposed to be about letting go, playing, exploring and expressing yourself. It makes sense that the outcome of this process is not always pretty. In fact, I feel like visual or creative journaling is more about the process than the outcome – just like regular written journaling.
I don’t sit down to write a journal entry so I have a pretty page of words, I write because it helps me to process things and is healing. Visual journaling should be the same.
It’s been a real conscious process for me with my perfectionism in my art. I have to regularly remind myself that it doesn’t have to be perfect, that it’s ok to make a mess and not know where it is going. It is a very uncomfortable feeling, playing with my paints and not knowing how it will turn out. I have to deliberately sit with that uncomfortable feeling.
But I’ve discovered that the best way to get past this is practice. And I don’t mean practice so that I get better artistically, I mean practice being ok with not being perfect. Practice being in that state of discomfort. Practice being imperfect.
The more I can work in my journal and actively continue despite feeling uncomfortable and even fearful of what will happen, the more I start to become desensitized to that feeling. The less power it has over me. The more I can create freely.
Someone once told me that discomfort is a sign that we are challenging ourselves, that we are growing.
So the feeling of discomfort, as unpleasant as it may be, is actually a sign that we are doing something good for us. I like this. It means that when I sit down to work in my creative journal and I feel uncomfortable with not knowing how it will turn out, with making mistakes, that I’m actually growing.
Maybe one day there will even come a time when I can play without fear of what will happen. Maybe, with practice.