May 24, 2010

Blasted "P" Word

It makes me sad when I hear people say, "I wish I could write, paint, or ____________  (fill in the blank) but I can't."

It's that blasted P word.  We tell ourselves it must be perfect or not attempt it.  But no one learns to sing or build or dance in one sitting.  They practice.  They fail.  They try again. 

There used to be a ditty on Sesame Street that went, "Practice and tomorrow I'll be better than today".  At the age of five, my eldest daughter taught herself to skate chanting that mantra.  I still hear her little sing-song voice when I'm tempted to give up.

The photo above is a painting I made for my Mother.  It's not my best work.  There are so many things I would like to redo but I gave it to her for Mother's Day anyway--as is.  I'm learning to let go of my expectations.  The painting is not perfect but it's from my heart to hers and it touched her deeply. 

We withhold beautiful connections from the world in the name of perfectionism.

What's something you've always wanted to do but never thought you could?


  1. For me, it's finding the time. I'd love to learn to play the piano. Someone gave us a piano, but every time I start playing, my youngest thinks it's her turn. This isn't something I can do when she's sleeping, so it's going to have to wait. I'd also love to be an artist, but there's a time commitment there too.

    By the way, I love your post. It made me think.

  2. Um, I would really love to sing on key, but sadly that ship is NEVER gonna sail. But I still see your point. I gave up pursuing a career in art because I realized I wasn't good enough, but it took me a while after that to realize that I didn't need to give up drawing. Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's not still good. Thanks for the reminder!

  3. It's funny but I just heard that "Practice and I'll be better tomorrow" ditty on sesame street the other day - loved it. I've wanted to do lots of things, but I tend to give up when it starts to feel to hard. Writing is the only thing I haven't given up on. It's been a while since you've been blogging - sounds like you've been writing though. Good job. Practice makes Perfect or at least better.

  4. Perfect is a dirty word. I'm trying to eliminate it from my vocabulary. I've written blog posts on it a couple times now. I'm trying to overcome that "P" sickness. I'm expanding on the things I have talent and interest in. I just read an interview with Bob Newhart. He says he's always tweaking his comedy. It's never "done" but it does get to the point of publication, display, or perfance ready. Play on!

  5. Such a good reminder! It's all about practice. Everyone in my family but me can play the piano really well. I took lessons but I just never got good like everyone else. At the time I just thought I stunk, but in retrospect I think I didn't practice nearly as much as my brothers and sisters.

  6. Myrna, hmmm, hadn't considered that. Maybe she could play drums while you play piano? lol

    Shannon, I loved how you said, "Just because it's not perfect doesn't mean it's not still good." Absolutely!

    Mary C., did you really? I'm glad they're still playing it. Yes, haven't been blogging as much but I'm hoping to keep a better balance this time round. We'll see...

    Mary A., I agree, it IS a dirty word. It's encouraging to hear about Bob Newhart.

    Natalie, I need to practice practicing.

  7. Life is far too short to not take chances and try new things.....enjoy life! It doesn't matter if you're great at something...are you enjoying yourself??? I never want to have regrets...don't want to be 80 and wish I had done more things when I could still do them!

  8. Hmm... I like this question. :) I am Type A and can be a perfectionist in my own way, but it never stops me from doing something I enjoy. I did theater for years in high school and college and rarely got leads (I can sing but I am not the best actress, lol). I played field hockey for 7 years but was really a good bench warmer. I was a dancer for about 10 years but I am not the most graceful soul. We bought a piano last year for my daughter who wants to play (after many years of her plunking on family pianos). I don't know a darn thing about playing piano, but I sit there and play anyway. I am hard on myself about my writing, but I do it because I enjoy it. Not doing something because you're not perfect is sad, you're right. You could really miss out on some of the joys in life and there really is no creative "perfect". :)

  9. Stephanie, that's always a good question--do I enjoy this?

    Dangerous with a Pen, "no creative perfect" is a great description.

  10. Um, I like your painting :)

    And the "P" word is hard to let go of: If you get an honors scholarship at the university I attend, you have to take the honors seminar, which I did this last semester. The topic changes every year, and this one was about Personal Transformation. We talked about change and obstacles and a big one was the fear of failure. In talking about change, we also had to do it: 3 small changes, and 1 semester long big change. The small changes were mostly stupid human tricks (I finally learned to snap my fingers), because what's more fun than watching a bunch of honors students try to twirl pens around their fingers and spin basketballs? For my big change, I learned to use the sewing machine that's been sitting at my parents' house for over a year because I was too afraid I'd never figure out how to use it. It was a birthday present.

    I did learn how to use it, and I had fun, and a lot of that had to do with practice and accepting that any progress is progress. I don't need to be an instant expert. In fact, I never need to be an expert. I agree with Dangerous with a Pen, and love that phrase: There is "no creative perfect."

    Thanks for the thought provoking post!

  11. I think telling yourself you can't do something, or that you can't do it well, is more dangerous than never even trying it. Because then, even if you do try it, you'll be the one holding yourself back.


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