Making Peace with Imperfection

Writing is a tool that I rely on to organize and make sense of my thoughts and feelings. Whenever I feel anxious, confused, or overwhelmed I often can’t find clarity until I’ve sat down to write it out. Somehow during the process I start writing truths that I don’t know until they flow from the pen, though I spend plenty of time thinking (and overthinking); it’s like my brain doesn’t know the thing, but my hand does.

Sometime in 2020, amidst the pandemic pregnancy and the long lockdown, I stopped writing here and even journalling for myself – probably the worst time to take a break since I had so much to work through! The fact that I stepped away from it at a time when I felt particularly isolated and didn’t have access to my other form of mental processing (running!), probably explains a lot of the inner discontent I struggled with that year.

The main reason I stopped writing in 2020 was because of the self-imposed pressure I felt from Instagram. After scrolling past all those perfect, curated squares with their carefully edited captions, I started to feel like I couldn’t (or shouldn’t!) post anything that wasn’t in its final finished state and this kept me from writing at all. Part of this pressure came from myself; a part of me believed that as your average stay-at-home-mom, I’d never have anything important to say. But the other, more rational, part of me failed to see that Instagram is a collection of finished products; no one is posting their shitty drafts or their unedited photography. We’re putting our best foot forward on that app at all times.

For creatives (or anyone really) this can be discouraging to witness on the daily. We don’t see the countless hours that artists devote to their crafts, the workshops they attend to get better, the terrible rough drafts and pages and pages of brainstorming for ideas, the time when an interior designer paints an entire room the wrong colour and it just doesn’t work, the unfinished novel that never made it to print, the poem that sucked, big time. We don’t want to mess up our perfect feeds by posting the ugly processes we go through to achieve end results.

So this is me recommitting to imperfection.

It’s tough for a Type A to come to terms with, but most people have to commit to the mess before they get to the beautiful ending. A runner needs to go through the sweaty, slow training sessions before they can run a marathon. A writer needs to carve out time to write the messy rough draft before they can publish the novel. An illustrator needs to sketch out their ideas before they arrive at the finished canvas. These are necessities of art. We’ll all be amateurs on our way to greatness, and if we’re growing and evolving there’s a good likelihood that we’ll look back one day and think the great art we’re doing now was the work of an amateur.

So I’m gonna lean into the knowledge that I don’t have to be perfect and give myself the freedom to post often and fret less. Hopefully this will help me get back to writing and processing, even when my thoughts are unpolished. Whatever space you’re in, I encourage you to do the same!

I’ll leave you with [this awesome graphic] I found recently (on Instagram of course. Eyeroll, lol). Here’s to making shitty art, so we can maybe one day make better art.

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