A few weeks ago, I did the typical New York weekend thing: escape to the beaches of Long Island.
My oasis of choice: Robert Moses beach. I’m not much of a swimmer but I do enjoy the calm of the waves crashing against the shore. Every now and then I’ll get up from my chair under the umbrella and venture off to dip my feet in.
This particular day the waves were especially violent. With each crash, the tide brought in jewels of the ocean: Seashells. I’d notice one or two really cool looking shells. I’d pick them up and throw them in my bucket.
Most people were interested in catching a wave, I was more interested in what was happening at my feet. I was also growing increasingly intrigued with the exchange that was happening next to me.
A father and his son, maybe about five years old or so were also collecting shells.
Each time the child would enthusiastically show his dad a treasure he found. His big brown eyes looking up at him with amazement and wonder.
His father would look at him disapprovingly and say: “Nope. That is not a good shell.” He would then take it back and throw it in the ocean.
This went on few times. Eventually the son himself would pick up a shell and they would then say in eerie unison “Nope! Not a good shell!”
My heart winced.
I wanted so shout so badly:
“PERFECTIONISM IS A MYTH! THERE IS SO MUCH BEAUTY IN IMPERFECTION!”
Instead I just held in in and died a little every time they exclaimed “Nope! Not a good shell!”
You see, the most beautiful shells to me were the ones that were broken, battered, or multi colored with jagged edges. I wondered how far they had traveled to be at this very shore just for me to pick them up.
I wondered how many people actually picked them up and threw them away because they weren’t beautiful to them.
Let that sink in for a minute.
How many times did you throw someone, yourself, or an opportunity away because it wasn’t perfect?
*Insert all the feels*
I’m guilty of this myself.
Often times I thought I wasn’t perfect enough. I felt that I didn’t have all the knowledge or (insert whatever you think here) to begin something.
You see perfectionism is a myth. It's a lie designed to keep you stuck. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s way says this:
“...Perfectionism is a refusal to let yourself move ahead. [It] causes you to get stuck in the details...and lose sight of the whole.” -Julia Cameron
I LOVE that. It causes you to get stuck in the details, that you lose sight of the whole.
You may say: “I can get my portrait taken after I lose 20 lbs.”
“I need to work on my arms. They are kind of flabby.”
“I need to let my hair grow out a little more.”
We’ll never measure up to society’s standard of perfection. It doesn’t exist, and it is un attainable.
Another year goes by and you don’t have a family photo or headshot of you taken.
Perfectionism isn’t a journey to discover the best. It is a literal hunt for the worst in yourself. The part of yourself that tells you nothing you will ever do will be good enough. You’re a failure, give up.
We are constantly bombarded with images, and sold products to get us to feed into our own insecurities.
I don’t photograph supermodels. I photograph everyday regular people. People with insecurities that manifest themselves every time I’m behind the camera.
You know what? The things you don’t love about yourself I love.
I love that you may have a gap between your two front teeth. It adds character to your smile.
How do we overcome the need to be a "Perfectionist?"
We let go.
The word imperfect literally spells out “I’m Perfect.” We are all perfect in our imperfect ways.