Tug of war: Validation versus Perfectionism

I’m not one of those people who let’s go of things easily.

No. I drive people crazy wanting to continually fix and tweak things, even after time has run out. Hell, I drive myself crazy. but that doesn’t seem to stop me from doing it.

For example, I’ll often post a photograph online and then notice and error and go back and fix it, over and over, a dozen or more times. I do this, heedless of the fact audience has already seen it/doesn’t notice/doesn’t care.

I recognize that this is the same perfectionism that inhibits many artists from sharing their work in the first place.

I think the reason my perfectionism hasn’t completely debilitated me is that my need for validation usually wins this tug of war.

I release my imperfect work eventually because of the positive adrenaline rush I get from sharing it. That feeling dwarfs my perfectionistic need to endlessly hold onto things.

The positive rush of sharing is something I became familiar with back in 2009 when I started sharing my photographs online with the flickr community. The immediacy of this creation-sharing process became addictive- and afterwards, I was never able to fully retreat back into the vicious cycle of my perfectionism again. The desire to share had become as strong as, or even stronger than, my desire to create. It added to my life the second half of the loop I had previously been unable to close.

If you are suffering from debilitating perfectionism and are unable to finish your project, try a scrappy exercise in imperfection; like daily blogging (ahem) or regular, uncomfortable sharing of your work-in-progresses. It will help flex your ‘letting-go muscles’, and will allow you to experience the positive endorphins that come from connecting with an audience. This may embolden you to overcome your perfectionism enough to let go of the work that needs to be finished and move on to the next one.

After all, what is this blog but a counter-attack on my own perfectionism? There’s no way for me to be perfect when I’m blogging in the public eye every day.

Typos, here I come.

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