I recently recalled a story my sister had shared with me about my four year old nieces making father’s day cards for their dad.
Faye had quickly drawn some colourful squiggles and then sat back in happy contentment at her work.
Rosa, on the other hand, had explained to my sister a very specific vision of pretty flowers she wanted to draw.
The first attempt wasn’t as Rosa had imagined, so she tried again. And again and again until the frustration and overwhelm got the better of her and she broke down in tears.
I wept at that story because I felt in my body, as my sister told me about it, the exact same feeling that Rosa felt trying to make her lovely card for her dad. It’s a feeling I’m so familiar with. A feeling going as far back as I can remember.
I’m pretty sure I arrived here wired that way. I’m pretty sure Rosa did too.
In many ways it’s a beautiful thing; to see a vision within you and to want to create it exactly as you see it. But it’s hugely frustrating when the skill in your hands doesn’t yet match the skill in your head.
It can quickly lead to overwhelm. And, unfortunately, giving up. We create a narrative for ourselves that says, ‘if it isn’t perfect, it’s pointless’.
But my sister’s story reminded me of another story from my own childhood.
My sister and I were entering a colouring competition. The image was of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. My sister’s colouring in was always beautiful. Not only is she two years older than me but she also has a gift for art.
I remember trying to make mine beautiful. And I remember not being able to get it the way I envisioned it in my head.
When the overwhelm kicked in, I ended up taking a black crayon and scribbling, very hard, all over Snow White’s face.
I won the competition.
‘Winning’ of course is not the point of the story. It’s just a little reminder to myself and to anyone else who needs it that if it isn’t perfect, it isn’t pointless.
Perfect is a story we make up in our minds. And whilst there’s nothing at all wrong with having a vision and striving to create something beautiful (these are wonderful things), it’s important not to let our idea of perfection stop us from creating things in the world and enjoying the process.
Besides, we’re not the only judges of what we create. I’m pretty sure Rosa’s dad thought her card was beyond perfect.
Love and courage,