The last name I expected I would call myself, last night, is “perfectionist”. Nothing I make is perfect.
When I was still in college, I had spent hours in Beginning Drawing class trying to make myself render that drawing of a potato. Not because I wanted to render the potato, but because my instructor told me there was a lot more rendering to be done and there was another hour and a half left of lab hours.My jelly bean-potato was good enough for me because rendering is tiring and I am not a perfectionist.
But, at my friends’ book discussion group last night, “Are you a perfectionist?” came up in discussion. We are reading “The Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis. We moved from “What distracts us in life?” to perfectionism (my life distraction) as a side tangent.
My other perfectionist friend described my problem through his experience so well that I spent the rest of the evening mulling over my perfectionism and how imperfect it really is. My friend’s problem (and mine) is that everything creative and artful he does (and I do), needs to live up to a perfect standard already set up in his head (same for mine). If the project does not start out looking as it should, it gets discarded as “too big”, “too hard”, “for another day”, “for when I have an actual art education.” When something starts to look less profound than I imagined it should be, I procrastinate until I write it off as discarded.
I have used my perfectionism to get so little done that I don’t have a single of my fantastical art projects started.
My mom, who leads our book discussion, does not have my perfectionism problem. She has from twelve to fifteen adorable puppet shows that have seen the light of the stage. She works with what she is building and moves through it even after the show starts to stray from the original vision.
I have a web comic I talked about, Pinterest Pinning Project I blogged about (two pins done), and so many things I would like to be (comic artist, puppeteer, website developer, tax accountant, teacher of useful things, really cool mom (one day), really cool wife (three months to go!), really gosh darn funny, a good singer, mastermind behind some silly cat gone viral, creative genius, organized and independent, general overall success…) Some of these are reasonable goals; I have an aptitude for systematic things like taxes and HTML code. My other dreams are unmeasurably vague like ‘being funny and a good singer’ or so large scale I don’t know where to start.
I dream of having a pretty home with my fiancee, where things get done. We will have a place for all of our things. We will live by a structured routine. We will wake up early in the morning and sleep at normal times at night. Meals will be home cooked every morning, day, and night. Children be well groomed and earn better grades than I ever did. Art will happen, crafts will be made, and spontaneity will be neatly scheduled in.
I dream of having a career. I want something to put my name on. I want to express something beautiful. I want to make people laugh. I want to make something that is worth while to someone else. I need to serve a purpose for other people. I have this grand idea of how it will look and feel, but the grandeur of it all is holding me back.
I need and crave organization, but also purpose in order to domesticate myself into my ideal of a more functional adult, in order to achieve a sense of stability.
I ought to start by putting away my dishes.