Nothing but nothing will kill your innate and emerging creativity like perfection. The more perfect I try to be, the more it sabotages my stitching and everything else around me. So maybe this is the time to share my dirty little secret: trying to be perfect does me in every time.
My never ending search for perfection in my art stops my creative process, and any project I may have in progress, dead in its tracks. Whether it’s writing this blog (is it perfect enough?), to my legacy quilt (I can see threads), giving a lecture or trunk show (was I entertaining? why didn’t that one laugh? Did they love me? Like me? Do I suck? I suck!), etc., my dance with wanting, having, to be perfect stalks and strangles me over and over again.
Chasing my personal brand of artistic and creative perfection kills any hope of my gaining any of the benefits of The Slow Stitching Movement (be they social, spiritual, financial, and/or physical benefits), because it ultimately renders me unable to connect with my creative muscle and discourages any physical movement at all. I become creatively and physically paralyzed! Not only does nothing get planned, nothing gets started, worked on, or completed without a loud, nagging angst.
Yet, when I muster the courage to delve into my perfectionistic B.S. during my Slow Stitching morning writing, I have come to a realization. I am not trying to be perfect for some elementary, personality flawed, under or over developed ego, or simple narcissistic gratification. Oh, no, sister, I’m trying to please others – the whole damn world! Those of us who often find ourselves crippled by our need to please . . . to be perfect, need to wrap our heads around this — perfection isn’t about our own crap – it’s all about trying to please everybody else. It’s about their permission, their approval, and yes, their [projected] crap!
Let’s take this one step further: Is there a stitcher, quilter, knitter or crocheter, weaver, tatter, fiber artist, or needle worker alive who doesn’t live to be complimented for their perfect work, even stitches, impeccable points, sense of design and mastery of skills? Even thread-perfect backs of projects (oh yes, cross stitchers look at the backs of the projects for a quick judgment of perfection)?
In my Slow Stitching webinars and lectures, I point out that one of the tenets of The Slow Stitching Movement is “developing excellence in your work.” Which might lead you to believe that excellence is a race toward transcendent perfection. By my mind, however, ‘excellence’ and ‘perfection’ are two majorly different beasts although, admittedly, there is a very fine line between the two.
Being perfect is straight up unrealistic, and you can drive yourself to a twice daily Xanax/Zoloft cocktail trying to achieve perfection in your stitching, your work, and your life.
Striving toward excellence, on the other hand, is a thoroughly noble goal, and as illustrated in The Slow Stitching Movement, only takes place during the process of your creative slow stitching and is never, ever, ever the destination.
If perfection in your slow stitching projects are your goal, then you are missing out on the beauty and rhythm of your creative process. You have become enslaved by some fantasy or, like me, you have developed a stitching performance anxiety, a needle holders stage fright, and soon find yourself not being able to find the motivation to coerce yourself to even pick up a needle.
Striving for excellence stimulates our creative juices and motivates us, whereas setting our sites on perfection sets us up for failure, feelings of worthlessness, defeat, procrastination, and worse — having to be perfect stops us from starting or finishing anything worthwhile in the first place.
Over the next week or so, I’m going to continue to write about our [my] battle with perfection versus excellence in Slow Stitching. Here is some of what I’ll be covering:
- The symptoms of perfection and how it’s hurting us.
- What we are murdering while dancing with our perfectionism.
- Signs our perfectionism is starting to spiral into chaos.
- How to stop perfectionism when it creeps up on us.
- The importance and gifts of creativity and developing excellence, not perfectionism, in your Slow Stitching work.
Keep checking back!