Hello there fellow creative person! Are you like me? Do you look over the work you’ve done? The countless hours toiled away — the brainpower depleted until you’re left a quivering husk at the end of every creative stint you pull? Do you look over the thing you’ve just made, that object of your unyielding attention and just think:
“Did I really make this? It’s good. I’m proud of this thing that I’ve dedicated a significant amount of my time on these last few days.”
No? Neither do I. If you’re like me, and, from what I’ve seen on a variety of social media platforms, a lot of other like minded creative people you’re more likely to sigh deeply to yourself and notice every single flaw that you made, and hate your own art.
An artist? Oh, look, that line is slightly off from where it’s supposed to be. The entire piece is ruined. A writer? Oh look, you’ve used the same word twice on that page, you hack. A sculptor? Ah, you messed up on that left nipple there. Good job. You fraud. Painter? Potter? Artisan of any stripe? I’m sure you’ve felt this sudden strong urge of impostor syndrome at least once this month, if not more. Am I right? Of course I am.
Why is that? Why do we never like what we’ve created, despite giving it our best effort, and our most eager attention? Is there a reason? Societal? Psychological? Well, I have a few theories.
First, is because of the societal pressure to be perfect that we’re brought up in. Fail a test? Line up against the wall and watch all of them smarter kids play kickball at you. No, we won’t show you what you’ve done wrong, you’re just supposed to feel bad about being wrong. Didn’t turn in your homework? Same thing. Don’t understand something? Keep your head down, or you’ll be the laughing stalk of the entire classroom.
These instance will, overtime, build up a mind that’s not used to failure. Even balks at it. But that’s the thing. To err is human. It is the most fundamental aspect of humanity that we all share. None of us are perfect. And the last one that was reportedly perfect we went and made the mistake of nailing him to a pair of logs. And that’s a good thing. Nobody likes to fail — that would be true in a society that didn’t expect perfection at every turn, as well. And because of that, every failure should become a learning opportunity.
Edison is quoted as saying, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And that’s a world-view we should live by, too. Doing, after-all, is the best way of learning. And failure always comes with the doing. Perfection is, and always will be unreachable, embrace the small failures and strive for perfection, sure, but you’ll never reach there. Perfection, afterall, is the enemy of good. And good is good enough.