Is perfectionism the enemy?
What wonderful and varied things you all had to say yesterday about my post on perfectionism and sewing. Thank you for taking the time to comment! I did notice though that a theme cropped up in some of the comments.
- Spottedroo said, “Hmm, I think I am more of a perfect-is-the-enemy-of the-good kind of girl.”
- Mary in FL said, “I used to be such a perfectionist that I was nearly afraid to sew, lest I make a mistake.”
- Gail said, “I think the art is knowing what needs to be perfect and what doesn’t and being able to live with the decisions you make about this.”
- Tanit-Isis said, “My theoretical perspective? Moderation in all things. Perfectionism is good if it leads to improvement without paralyzing you or creating dissatisfaction with overall-good projects.”
There’s a quote I’ve heard a lot but I’m not sure who said it, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
I agree with each and every commentor in regards to how perfectionism while positive on the one hand, can indeed be the enemy of creativity and the death of sewing mojo. On my “sophisticated” PowerPoint created scale above, I would guess I am about a 6 or a 7 (although truth be told I never make my bed in the morning, nor do I make mitred bed corners). And I will even admit to being only selectively perfectionist in my day-to-day life. Some things are more important to me than others, like how I am very strict with how the dishwasher is loaded, but don’t care if the dining room table has months worth of junk mail on it.
But when it comes to sewing, it is increasingly important to me to have well constructed garments. There is pride in a job well done. There is the welcome flush of pleasure when someone exclaims, “I can’t believe you made that!”
My growing perfectionism in sewing is not causing me to freeze in terror at making mistakes or blocking my mojo or killing my creativity. It’s slowing me down. It’s creating more concentration. I am in the zone when I’m sewing. I don’t pay attention to the time when I’m in the zone. I am focused on the task at hand. Mistakes, if they happen, aren’t something I fear, but an opportunity to unpick and make it right. All while being in the zone.
Do I get upset that I have to insert the invisible zipper in twice or thrice? Yeah, probably. But it’s not because I’m a perfectionist that I’m mad, but because I get frustrated at my lack of ability when it comes to spatial or 3D awareness. There’s something about invisible zippers and how they’re inserted that always boggles my mind. It seems so counter-intuitive.
I once spoke about wadders and how they needed a new name or to be reframed from a negative point of view to a positive one. Wadders are learning experiences. We all make mistakes. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. Why should we fear mistakes when they are such great ways to learn?
When I lost my voice and couldn’t sing in tune, I had to learn how to sing again. It forced me to focus on the process, on the bare bones of technique and build upon each part one at a time. I rebuilt my voice from nothing back to something better than before I lost it. I am really proud of that achievement. I know more about singing, how the sound is produced because of my “failure”. If had never lost my voice, I would never have truly known how to sing. I would have continued in my ignorance and with not great technique.
I didn’t mean for this to turn into such a preachy post. I only wanted to say that perfectionism doesn’t have to be the enemy, but it can be an opportunity.
So there, I said it.