There is something that grates on my nerves when I hear someone say that they are a “Perfectionist”. It always makes me think of a persnickety person who is never satisfied, and highly critical of everything around her, and especially of herself. I have family members and friends who claim that they are Perfectionists. And what I see driving that pursuit of “perfection” is something rooted much deeper in their psyche than the attempt to create a flawless project.
We all want to do the best that we can. Who wants to do a shoddy job? I try to be the best that I can, but I never try to be “perfect”. I will never be that hard on myself. I have to ask (especially of those who claim to be “Perfectionists”) : Is there such a thing as perfection? Is there anything with absolutely no flaws? Is it possible to make something without any mistakes? I really think the answer is NO! Why put that high of a demand on yourself if it is unattainable? All it will do is make you unhappy.
I have met so many “Perfectionists” that hide under that self-imposed title, when in actuality, they are very insecure about what they are doing. They fear criticism, they fear someone will find the smallest bit of fault in what they are working on or have finished. They will spend hours agonizing about if the flier they are designing has each design element in the “perfect place”, they will worry about the one sentence that isn’t worded “exactly” right, or the one bead that is off size by a hairline, and if just one of the beads is in the wrong place, then they will rip off 40 rows to correct it and lose hours of work. In these cases, who would really notice, other than the Perfectionist her or himself?
Claiming and striving to be a Perfectionist is like a protective shield against their fear of someone finding fault in their work and ultimately with them. Yet the Perfectionist will be the first to show you the one bead in a 25,000 bead project that they got wrong, they will show you that one design element that is off by 1/8 of an inch in a multi paged document they created. They would be the only one who would notice, but they need to point out the unnoticeable, insignificant flaw. Why? Perhaps to beat any potential criticism to the punch? In finding (and pointing out) their own flaws, perhaps someone else won’t make the critique. Maybe then, someone will say something like, “Oh, I would never have noticed.” Or “It looks fine to me.” Thus getting the validation that what went wrong is really ok, and despite the tiny mistake, their work is still fantastic.
Being (or trying to be) a Perfectionist is not without a cost. The Perfectionist might never show her work because she “knows” something is “wrong” with it, deadlines for shows and competitions will pass by because the piece was never “perfect” enough to submit, and projects will never see completion because there is always something “wrong” with them. Because the Perfectionists have become their own worst critic, no one else will ever have the opportunity offer them a valid critique, their work won’t be shown, their ideas will never be seen by anyone. In the end, striving for perfection is the only work they will do.
My work is not perfect. It is far from it. I have made mistakes, a color may not be a perfect choice in one project, beads that should have been culled made it into my necklace, thread might be showing, or there is a typo in one of my books. Look for them, you will find them. But I did the best I could, and there came the time to release my work, for better or worse and move on. If I were of a Perfectionist mindset, I don’t think I would ever have been published, or had my work in a gallery, or have finished any of the many projects I finished. I still would be trying to get that one “perfect” project done. No one would ever have seen any of the work that I have done. I wouldn’t even be writing this blog. I am certain that I have plenty of typos, and grammatical errors.
I am not advocating that anyone should not care about doing a good job. You should always strive to do the best you can possibly do. With each piece of beadwork you create, try to make it better than the last. Fix the important, critical mistakes, but accept the minor flaws. If you are a self proclaimed Perfectionist, be kinder to yourself. Don’t let your fear of the imperfect, and what judgment might come of it keep your work in hiding, and you from achieving your goals. Learn that there is a time to release and let go, and start something new and better. Learn to be less judgmental of yourself and be kinder and gentler to yourself. You’ll find that you will enjoy what you do all the more.