Kicking the Perfection Addiction

Perfection does not exist.

I’ve long believed that the term Perfection is a superlative term used to describe it’s opposite.

“This isn’t perfect”

“This could be perfect, but…”

Yet, despite believing it doesn’t truly exist, despite never in a million years identifying as a perfectionist, I found myself continually holding myself to the standards it sets. Before this year, when I used to write, I would never dream of showing someone a first draft. I wanted to people to see my work in a fully realised, perfectly written final piece. I couldn’t bear the thought of some lacklustre initial draft reflecting on me. But, along with my friend Andy, I went to a Creative Writing class… And on the very first day, with no prior warning, we had to write and read something out loud. I wasn’t prepared for that. I panicked a bit. I think I went a bit off topic, perhaps didn’t quite grasp the activity the tutor set out, but I wrote something and, to my surprise, people liked it.

Over the past year, I’ve been learning to fight my perfection addiction; to understand that no piece art is ever truly perfect, first draft or otherwise. Something that held me back from blogging frequently was, again, this idea that people could read something that wasn’t truly perfect.“How would that reflect on me?”, I’d ask myself, “Would people say my blog was naff? Would I be laughed at for a typo or an incorrect phrase? A badly developed theme or poorly portrayed idea?”. Turns out no. Turns out, most people, are human beings… Most people don’t want something perfect especially over something real.

When I started to realise this, I also started to realise just how much of an impact perfection was having on my life.Not only was I holding my writing to this standard, but my time, my environment. I  could never find the perfect time or place to write. I put off writing for ages, until I wasn’t writing at all. All because I couldn’t find a perfect time or perfect place to write (and, if I had of done, I wouldn’t have written the perfect piece anyway, would I?)

Without going off on a tangent about Writing Prompts again, I’d like to say these were a huge help in combating this addiction to the impossible. By writing and posting every day I learnt to find time to write, to fight the urge to leave something in drafts; I learnt to cultivate an idea in a limited time frame and showcase the final result – even if it was sometimes nothing more than a glorified first draft.

My biggest test, though, hasn’t even been writing at all. My biggest test has actually been my photography. If you’re not a photographer, let me tell you… If you feel none of your written pieces are perfect, it can often go double for photography. Photos can always be a bit brighter, a bit lighter, they could be at different angles or taken on different days. A lot of these things are out of control when faced with the final product – the RAW file – but you could still spend literal days editing one shot (and yet so many people think the majority of the photographers work is done on the day?). You can imagine, then, how hard it is to find time to edit all these photos – especially when working full time – and how hard it is to part with these photos – and to a paying customer no less! So, I’ve had to just sit down and work. I haven’t been able to wait for the perfect environment; I’ve just had to crack on as and when I can; utilising my time constructively and efficiently, regardless of any distractions or how long I had. Then, at the end of it, I’ve had put my work out there, but this time to someone who could be genuinely disappointed; someone who has an invested interested in the product I’m producing. I could rack myself with those same old questions: “Could I touch up this photo more? Will this reflect badly on me? Or worse, will it reflect badly on my colleague and my company?” But, thinking like this doesn’t help. It doesn’t get the end result to the customer and it causes me stress and a sapping of confidence.

At the end of the day, maybe I could have continued editing the photos, spending days and weeks on each individual shot, but the customers so far – touch wood – have all been very happy with the end result; my stress and worry has always been unnecessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully prepared for one day, hopefully years and years away, when we get our first unhappy customer, but it hasn’t come yet! When it arrives, it’ll be because you can’t please everyone, someone will always find a flaw in something – perfection does not exist.

I’m surely not alone in holding myself to unachievable standards. How do you combat your fears? Do any fears still hold you back? Let me know in the comments!

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13 thoughts on “Kicking the Perfection Addiction

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  4. indeed we always want to be perfect but we cannot be. we fail, we make mistakes, may it be on grammar or in photos’ headrooms. 😀

    i think i am once a perfectionist, too. but now changed my goal to be perfect to become the best version of myself. 🙂

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  5. I agree that true ‘perfection’ is unobtainable. It is an entirely subjective concept with every person having a unique perspective.

    However, I feel that trying to attain perfection can lead to avenues of quality that has the potential to be leagues ahead of mere ‘acceptance of the first draft’. Or it can drive you nuts!

    Well written.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Without a doubt. Chasing the elusive perfect is a double edged sword; you either temper your own material enough to make it great, or you go insane trying to reach the unobtainable. Thanks for reading! (Also, how is it that I followed you but you found time to comment me first? I feel like a bad follower! Haha)

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice post Shaun. If everything was perfect there would be no outlet for creativity. It is like the word happiness it can mean different things to different people. The only thing we can do in pursuit of our art is to give it our all, keep learning and enjoy the ride.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Never actually considered that, but entirely correct. Creativity wouldn’t be born without imperfection. Completely agree with giving it our all and continually learning. If we set our aims TOO high we’ll just never reach them! Just got to do our best and enjoy!

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  7. I strive to always do my best, but I have long since abandoned the quest for ultimate perfection. I suppose it exists out there somewhere, but I’d be long in the grave before I ever found it. I agree, it’s never the perfect time to get started.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think that’s all any mortal can strive to do! I think when we start bogging ourselves down with “perfection” we will ultimately fall short and never be happy. Doing our best is about as perfect as it gets 🙂

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  8. I agree that perfection doesn’t exist. Though I too strive for it, there is a point where I have to let my creations go and move forward. I’ve also found that our audiences are so broad in tastes that what is perfect to one person is mediocre to another. So there is no winning in the perfection game even if we tried; we’ll only get stuck and end up disappointed. We do the best we can within a reasonable time frame and then continue to create. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was “perfectly” put! Haha. I couldn’t agree more, it’s something worth striving for to some extent, lest we just settle for mediocre ourselves, but we certainly can’t aim to please everyone and that, in itself, means nothing is ever perfect!

      Liked by 1 person

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