Updated: Feb 16, 2019
I love this image. Wild. Free. Leaping into the warmth of a summer afternoon in the pool, with joy and abandon. Basically everything I miss about childhood, wrapped up in one shot.
Yet the image is not perfect. For one thing - I accidentally cut her hands out of the frame. For another, the blue basketball net in the background...it annoys me. There's much I would like to do over, but the light was fading and bedtime called, and this was the best I could do.
I had two choices with this image. One, share it proudly, imperfections and all. Two, delete it, because it falls short of some imaginary standard that I alone have established for my photographs.
How often do we refuse to share our work, because it hasn't met our standard of perfection? How many pages of your first novel have you ripped to shreds? How many poems have you crumbled and tossed? How many paintings have never been seen by another pair of eyes besides your own, simply because you deem it not good enough?
Perfectionism is the enemy of creativity. Jon Acuff writes about this in his book, "Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done."
“This is the first lie that perfectionism tells you about goals: Quit if it isn’t perfect.”
Here's the sad news, friend. Your work isn't going to be perfect. Your art, your writing, that piece of furniture you built from scratch, the website you designed, the t-shirt you just made, the blanket you crocheted, the concert you just played - it's not perfect. Somewhere along the way you dropped a stitch, a note was off key, or you flubbed a line.
Here's another gut check. Someone probably noticed. Someone noticed that your work, your offering, the thing you poured your heart and soul into, was not perfect. Your secret is out. You've been exposed. You are nothing more than...human.
But isn't our humanity and our imperfection what makes our art the most relatable? The most impactful? When we offer up perfection, we remove the human element from our art. We strip it of character, soul, and depth.
I'm not saying be sloppy. I'm saying, be free. Free yourself from the burden of perfection, because honestly, we are all pretty sick of the airbrushed, SEO optimized, styled and curated "creativity" being offered up these days. Just. Be. You. Don't be cautious. Don't edit every sentence obsessively. Don't throw away your work because you've decided it's not good enough. It IS good enough. You are good enough. Share your work with us. Someone may notice your flaws, true. But someone else will notice your heart. And in turn they will be emboldened to share their own.
Let's start a revolution. The revolution of the perfectly imperfect. I'm in. Are you?