Practicing Anti-Perfectionism

I’m going to tell you something I wish someone would have told me a long time ago: you don’t have to be an artist to do art. 


This statement doesn’t just apply to art, but to everything that many of us have stopped doing because we weren’t naturally talented at it. If you’re like me, a self-proclaimed perfectionist, then chances are you’ve given up on plenty of hobbies simply because you couldn’t quite get them right. I find that pretty sad. I feel we live amongst the prevailing mindset that we have to have a monetary value attached to what we do and if we aren’t good enough to be paid to do something, then maybe we have no business doing it anyways. I don’t want to be held to these standards. I want to create for the sake of creating. So, I went on a journey to become an anti-perfectionist. 



First things first, I needed to find a mode to apply my new found mentality too. I doodle while I take notes in class and you can find the margins of my notebooks filled with the faces of every imaginary person I can dream up. This seemed like a good place to start. I grabbed a friend and some art supplies and sat down for a paint night. My first painting was a bunch of faces and there isn’t really much to say about it. It wasn’t some great work of art — my technique is nonexistent and my supplies showed that I didn’t pay more than 5 dollars for them. But none of this mattered because I liked it and, more importantly, I liked creating it.  


After that first paint night, it would have been easy to stop drawing and painting but I held on to the feelings of simple creation. I spent around an hour nearly every night listening to music and drawing more people. My technique didn’t excel and I constantly made mistakes; but since there was no real purpose for my painting, I could make as many mistakes as I wanted. It felt really good to do something that was just for me and to not let myself give up because I wasn’t perfect.


A friend saw my paintings and complimented them kindly. In fact, I’d been getting a lot of positive reinforcement from those around me about the paintings. I told him that I was just creating for the sake of creating and while it was great that he liked them, I knew that they weren’t masterpieces. My friend was quick to say “But you’ll get better at it the more you do.” 


While I was appreciative of the optimism, I didn’t hesitate to correct him and explain that maybe I actually won’t and that it doesn’t really matter to me. My art hasn’t really gotten better, but it has become different. For the first time in my life, I have found something I can experiment with and feel fine if it doesn’t work. I am able to create — no strings attached. 


When we only show our highlight reel, we only share half of our stories. I want to celebrate not only what we’re good at but what we’re bad at too. We don’t have to be perfect (or even close to it) just to do something. I have found peace in being an anti-perfectionist and I think you can too.