giving up on perfect


“There are no happy accidents anymore.”

Our guitarist at church said that yesterday while we were all discussing the rise of auto-tuned, over-synthesized music. Don’t get me wrong – I love to jump around to Calvin Harris any day of the week, I love to have a dance party alone in my room, or yell out Tiësto with all my girls. But something about those songs is less than satisfying. It seems strange – the voices are perfectly on pitch, every instrument precisely orchestrated, and yet – it still doesn’t quite satisfy. But maybe that’s because it’s missing something – it’s not real, not human. When everything is so polished, when you’ve done twelve takes and engineered the sound to take out all the flaws, there’s no soul. There’s no hint of emotion or feeling, there’s nothing that gives the song character.

Perfection is boring. An image of perfection is false. I know this perfectly well, and yet I can’t seem to rid myself of this idea of perfectionism. Everything has to be just right. All the pieces have to fall perfectly into place or I’m not happy. But you know what? I’m still not happy. Because when you’ve worked so hard for everything to go a certain way – and you force the pieces into place – things start to lose their meaning. When you’ve orchestrated just how everything is supposed to go, you win the polished image of your fantasy and it’s never enough. It’s always disappointing. Because there’s no surprise, there’s no happy accident.

I never wanted this idea of being perfect to enter the sphere of my art. With painting, it hasn’t, maybe because I love abstract art and I don’t believe in having rules for art. But with music, the one thing I love more than anything else, perfectionism poisons it and robs me of my joy. Last week, a friend listened to me cry about how I was scared to record my music because it was “never good enough” – I was afraid that people would notice my mistakes and they would hate my music. His answer to me was that they’ll never like my music if they never have a chance to hear it. I can’t stop thinking about that. I can’t stop thinking about how I set myself up for failure because I’m waiting for things to be perfect. How many opportunities will I miss by worrying that something won’t go exactly as planned? And how ironic is it that the little flaws and accidents that give the songs I love character are exactly what I’m trying to get rid of?

It’s not just something I see in myself – I see it all around me. People trying to act a certain way, to look successful or beautiful, or waiting for the perfect moment in a relationship. We don’t want people to see who we really are – with all of our beautiful flaws and uniqueness. We want them to see the manufactured us, the one that we’ve cultivated, the mask we wear to believe that we are something when if we’d just be ourselves, we really are something. And we have to let that go. Perfection does not exist. We have to let go of this obsession and strive to be real. I want to make that my aim – to do what I do and let myself shine through. For better or worse, to be satisfied with myself at the end of the day knowing I was true to myself, my passion, my convictions. That should be your goal, too; that’s the road that leads to joy. ♥


2 responses to “giving up on perfect

  1. I agree with you and would add one thing. How many times I have worked on something until I think “perfection” has been achieved, only to have someone else miss the point! That steals the joy too!

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