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Perfectionism and the Arts

Perfectionism is quite pervasive in today's culture - at least the one I live in. It is hard to let it go.

Why I am working on it. Why do I try to teach this to my students.

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Perfectionism is many things, it comes from many things. I most often see it as a defense. Displaying perfection defends proactively against any perceived attack or judgement that may cause uncomfortable feelings, shame, insecurities. It defends us against triggers that may connect to our past, our negative childhood messaging that wounded us, the tiny(?) stubborn voice that may tell some of us we are not enough. The fear that if someone truly saw the raw version of us, that the impact of a rejection of that may be too deep to recover from. And so we offer a different view, a more perfect view and thus keep ourselves safe.


People can not be perfect. Organizations and businesses can not be perfect.

Art can not be perfect - especially to an artist.


Yet, we create stress in ourselves and others constantly in attempt to get as close as possible. To display to others perfection? I think not. I think it is more to display the lack of imperfection.


Imperfection, inherent in all of us, is vulnerable. Vulnerable is by definition uncomfortable. As the GB Wildling Detective says, "How do we grow if we avoid discomfort?" and the Camel says, "Hmph..." - but that's a different story.


Brene Brown, the researcher story-teller, speaks on vulnerability. Speaks on the power of it.



True art requires vulnerability.

It requires bravery.

It requires discomfort.

If art is a reflection of the human experience it should never be perfect. If education is about growth and development, it should never look perfect. If relationships are about true connections - the people are not perfect. Our houses are not perfect, our work is not perfect, our bodies are not perfect, our events are not perfect.


This is important because it is true and authentic.


Art can move people forward in their journeys. It can help people of all ages find themselves. It can help us find each other, understand our world, dig deeper and connect more.


But it requires bravery and distress tolerance.


It requires us to show up and keep showing up.


It requires us to be publicly imperfect. A daunting thing in my opinion.


I will keep trying. Sometimes it will be messy. Sometimes it will be magic.


I want my students to see both. To go into the world having practiced failing in a safe environment, crying in a safe environment, working through discomfort in a safe environment, stretching - trying - creating - engaging....I want all of these things for all of my students.


And that is why moving allowing things in Green Bean to be not perfect is important.


And it is hard.


And I love it more than I can say.



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