Have you ever wondered who the "they people" are? You know, "they say...." I wonder if they have a headquarters somewhere. Anyhow, these "they people," in their infinite wisdom, are probably responsible for the old adage, "practice makes perfect." There's also variations of that, such as "perfect practice makes perfect," which serves as a caution against losing focus while rehearsing whatever it is you're working on improving. I don't know if this will get me inducted into the Loyal Order of They People, but I'd like to add my own variation: "practice makes perfect (almost)."
Ugh. After I wrote that I did a random Google search. Guess what? Apparently I'm NOT the one who came up with that! So I guess my short-lived membership in the They People Hall of Fame is officially revoked!
Let's face it. When you care about something, it's hard to let go. If you change "something" to "someone," I'm sure anyone who's a parent could attest to that. At some point, you gotta let go. At some point, your children have to go out without you looking over their every move. There comes a time for them to have their own life. I'm sure more than one parent has shed a tear or two on their way home from dropping their child off at college. In any relationship of any sort, letting go is huge. Micromanaging another person doesn't tend to lend itself to a happy, healthy environment.
But what about when it comes to whatever else happens to be your passion? Perfectionism and striving to be your best at whatever you do is a great quality...until it isn't. More than one artist, author, composer, and probably many others have struggled with when their creation is ready for the world to experience. "Not just yet" is an all-too-familiar theme.
As someone who struggles with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, this is daily territory for me. At the core, it comes down to anxiety. The anxiety can be related to any number of things, including the frequent fear of not being good enough. What if people don't like us and our creations? If I had a dollar for every time I've gotten stuck on some particular lyric or note in a song and wondering whether it's just right, there'd be a lot of zeroes added to the end of our bank account balance!
Don't get me wrong. It's important to do our best at all times. In whatever profession you're in, I'm sure you can think of examples you've seen of work that's not up-to-par. But when we become so scrutinizing that we can never finish anything, we inhibit ourselves, along with anyone who might benefit from our work.
But let's face it. We often know all the logical reasons why we should or should't do or feel something, yet go there anyway. It's easy for others to tell us why we should or shouldn't do this or feel that, but they're not us. Haha, I legit one time had a counselor say to me, "just don't do that." What?????!!!
So I'm not going to tell you to just let go. You already most likely know you should, and you don't need to hear it from me. And to be honest, I'm still working on this myself, sometimes with success; sometimes not so much. But I will share what's worked for me in making the progress I have made.
First, the things we get hung up on and focus on are things that the overwhelming majority of others would never stop to think twice about. I can't tell you how many times I had performances where I thought I was way off, only to afterwards have people raving about how much they enjoyed it. Likewise, there have been many times I thought I was having a great performance, only to not get that type of feedback. Clearly, we're not always the best judge of ourselves, and never really know what it is that will resonate with others.
When it comes to practice, you can only do so much preparation before you need to get out there and do it for real. Both in bands and as a solo performer, time and time again I've seen where the show doesn't truly tighten up until you have a bunch of live performances under your belt. Getting away from music, I'm sure this is true of many other professions, including sports, surgeons, first responders, military, etc.
There's no such thing as perfection this side of heaven. I think it comes down to our needs and how we want to be viewed by others. If we struggle with self-esteem, then often we'll look to others to lift us up, and that's when we might get too obsessed with perfection.
I've found that looking at the big picture helps. What's our purpose? Our goal? For me, it's to create music that will have a positive impact on people's lives, in the same way that the music of others has touched me. Therefore, it's important to keep creating and keep moving forward, not getting stuck in one place. I can't say I'm always successful with this, but every step is something to be celebrated.
Today's your day. Let us hear what you've got to say. Woah, that rhymes. But is there a better rhyme? What if people think it's corny? Ummmm, yeah, in this case, they definitely will! But you get the point...