If you know me well you might have heard me say that I'm a perfectionist who hates perfection. It's a half truth. I don't actually think perfect exists but I do think there is often (or maybe always) a way I could do things better. Not best, mind you, but better. It's something I struggle with daily and it's one of the weaker spots in my battered armour.
I think some of it -- ok, a lot of it -- stems from having often been the odd one out as a child. We didn't have a lot of money when I was growing up. We had enough… most of the time. There was rarely any to spare and as a result I didn't have all the things that other kids had. My clothes were not those that were hip and trendy. I rocked the thrift store, sale and flea market finds. I made my own style. Sometimes it was good, other times it was bad. (When it was bad it was so very, very bad.)
I also didn't have computers, walkmans, Game Boys, or any of the other things that you can think of that cost money. I didn't have the same resources at my disposal. The things I didn't have were an easy way to take a poke at me and to point out that I was different. Each poke was another dent in my armour. Sometimes they jabbed straight through it.
We were kids. And then teenagers. And then young adults trying to figure out who we were. I get it and don't hold any ill will toward anyone (though that doesn't mean I want to be their friend on Facebook). If they were poking at me, no one was poking at them and I did my own fair share of poking at other people.
There were times when if felt like I had to do so much better in order to be considered equal. There were -- and are -- times when I put too much pressure on myself to do things well. I look at everything and ask, "What did I do wrong? Why isn't this better?"
It can be an incredibly demoralizing way to look at things. Don't get me wrong, seeking improvement can be good. The problem is when you give your faults more weight than the things you do right. The problem is when you assume that all people see are your faults.
I try really hard to let this all go and drown out the voices in my head. Most days, I do a pretty good job of it. Then there are the days when I don't. Those are the days when I go around humming, "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I guess I'll go eat worms." I'll catch it running through my head and either sigh and agree or tell myself to shut the hell up and go blast some Bif Naked.
I believe in continuing to try things I'm bad at doing. This is why I run and why I try to run my own race. It's why I write. It's why I bake. It's why I paint my nails.
When I look at this photo I can see all the errors and this was a pretty good nail job for me. I can imagine how it would look if they were professionally done. I can imagine them better. I can imagine people looking at this photo and saying, "I can't believe she posted a picture of that crappy-ass nail job."
I breathe and remember all the crappy-ass nail jobs I've paid for. I remember every typo or mistake I've found in a book. I remember every shot I've seen in a tv show or a movie where you can see the boom mic appear on screen for a moment.
I remember that in the end it's the imperfections that make something special. It's the first edition with a page out of order that makes it worth something. It's the smudge on a painting that ends up preserving the artist's fingerprint.
I'm not perfect. My creations are not perfect. I need to learn to embrace the imperfections and shut down the voices in my head that insist people are poking at me. If someone really is poking at me that's not the end of the world. Battered armour is better than perfect shining armour. I've earned every single one of those dents, scratches and holes in my defences and I wouldn't have it any other way. After all, the knight with the shining armour has never truly battled.