Perfectionism and Creativity

Blog

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”
- D. W. Winnicott

Lately, I’ve found myself in a bit of a creative rut (and by “lately,” I mean the past year or so).

Fear has a funny way of disguising itself as “perfectionism.” When trying different things when it came to photography or design, I would always find myself second-guessing my ideas. As a result, I would end up throwing most projects out the window. Sometimes, I would get to the point where I was almost finished with a personal project, but then I’d delete the entire thing because it wasn’t exactly as I had originally planned. Although we should always be trying to improve in our craft, the idea of perfectionism in art is actually a bit impossible. Let me let you guys in on a little secret – there’s no such thing as the “perfect” project. Because technology / your personal style is always evolving, there will always be an infinite number of tweaks you can make to an individual project. However, if you endlessly work on one project without ever completing it, are you really creating anything at all?

The three pictures at the top of this post were taken last night in a bit of an impromptu photo shoot (I’ve been making a habit of carrying my camera around with me when I leave the house). Since I usually only do my photo shoots outside in natural light, this mini shoot was way out of my comfort zone. Right after we took the photos, I imported them into my computer and started editing. As I started going through the pictures, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. However, I pushed past the doubts and finished editing the pictures. Although the pictures I took are definitely not my best work, I exported and uploaded them anyway. And guys – since last night, I’ve had so many new ideas for projects. After going for months without any kind of inspiration, it’s so refreshing to be able to fill up my notebook with new ideas.

If you’re in a creative rut – whether it be photography, design, writing, etc. – don’t be afraid to try something new. Even if the project you work on isn’t your best, it could spark a whole bunch of new ideas that you wouldn’t have even imagined beforehand.

I’ve set up a bit of a challenge for myself for July – I’m going to create something new every day. Whether it’s photography, design, blog stuff, or even music, I’m going to try my best to complete one small project on a daily basis. Want to join in on my little adventure? Leave a comment below and let me know! I’ll be posting weekly updates on my blog and I’d LOVE to see what you’re creating too!

Have a lovely week, friends. Go create something!

While you’re creating things, check out this weeks playlist.

Foggy Fields & Comfort Zones

Saturday night, I stayed with a couple of friends. As we drove into their neighborhood, we saw the moon. It was one of those nights where the moon was a fantastic reddish / orangish color. However, it was hard to see it because there were so many trees. In an effort to “chase the moon,” one of my friends suggested that we walk to the airport that was in their neighborhood. We went back and forth on the decision for a bit, but eventually decided to go on the walk despite the fact that we were all pretty exhausted. It took us a few minutes to walk to the airport. Although the neighborhood my friends live in is beautiful and full of trees, it was incredibly dark. When we turned down the last road that took us to the airport, I saw that it ended in a cul-de-sac, and the only way we could move forward was by walking through a dark, wooded area.

Now guys, I have to tell you something. I’ve had an irrational fear of snakes since I was a kid. Don’t even try to tell me the whole “they’re more scared of you than you are of them!” thing. I’m just not a fan. Because of this, the thought of walking on a pitch-black trail through the woods at night was kind of terrifying. What made it worse was that as soon as I took my first step and looked towards end of the trail, all I could see was this archway made of trees…and some super eerie fog. Basically, it felt like I was walking onto the set of a horror film. As we started walking down the trail, one of my friends turned to me and asked if I was okay. On the inside, I was screaming a bit and was incredibly out of my comfort zone, but I lied through my teeth and said “yep! great.” I probably wasn’t very convincing, but thankfully he didn’t ask again. Yes, I was scared out of my mind, but I had made it this far and there was no way I was turning around.

Even though the walk to the end of the trail lasted probably a total of 45 seconds, it seemed like it would never end. However, when we got to the end of the trail, it opened up into this gorgeous, fog-filled field. The moon was full and you could see silhouettes of trees / a random barn…and it was one of the most breathtaking views I’ve seen in my life. We just stood there for a while and let it all sink in. Sadly, I didn’t have my camera so I didn’t get any kind of pictures or video, but honestly, nothing could have accurately captured that much beauty. Eventually, we decided it was time to head home so we walked towards the trail again. I was seriously amazed at how short of a walk the trail really was. This thing that I had feared so much and thought would never end was not that big of a deal at all. The more I’ve thought about this the more I’ve realized that it’s kind of the way that I view different struggles and fears in everyday life.

When we set out on a new path, the road can seem long and treacherous. Even when we look towards the end of the path and think we know how things will be when we reach our destination, it turns out that we’re only seeing a small piece of the puzzle. Sometimes, it’s the things that look terrifying from a distance that are actually the most beautiful. Making a conscious decision to take steps out of your comfort zone is hard, but it’s so worth it. Fear can be crippling, but when you push past the anxiety and the uncertainty, you go farther than you could ever imagine.

Have a lovely week, friends.

The Process of Letting Go

Screen Shot 2014-06-11 at 12.02.39 PM I’ve been procrastinating writing this post for a while…which is slightly ironic.

I have a love / hate relationship with change. Change is great because it keeps things interesting and makes life more of an adventure, but it also has a habit of pushing you out of your comfort zone a bit too much. However, one thing that I’ve learned through this recent season of change is that things are way better when you just go with the flow rather than trying to hold onto your previous season with every ounce of strength you have. This is where I learned my first lesson in change – because really, if you’re using all of your strength to hold onto a season that’s dead, then you’re not growing in any kind of capacity. I was trying so hard to hold onto my friends, my school, and everything that went along with it that I started to become weak. This led to me feeling tired not only on a spiritual level, but on a mental and physical level as well. By the time I finally made the decision to move back to Charlotte, I was so broken down that I had lost my passions and most of my hope. When you put all of your hope and trust in your own plan, it tends to fail. Miserably.

Moving back home was something that I had always told myself I would never do. Both of my parents moved out of their houses when they were 17 or 18 and never moved back in, and I could do the same. Right? Wrong. To be completely honest with you guys, I have a bit of a problem with being stubborn. Once I set my mind to something, I do everything in my power to get it done. However, the problem with stubbornness is that sometimes, if we take it a bit too far, we put ourselves and our plans before the plans of the Father. Because none of my friends or family had moved back in with their parents, I considered moving back home to be a form of failure. This is where I learned my second lesson in change – never compare your current season to someone else’s season. Everyone has their own story and every story is different. Just because your season is in a different place than someone else doesn’t mean that you are any less of a person. You are loved and you are cherished.

I first felt that I was supposed to move back home about halfway through my sophomore year of college. The thought had crossed my mind a few times, but I tried as hard as I could to ignore that uncomfortable nagging feeling. So instead, I immersed myself in different activities and tried as hard as I could to convince myself that I was in the right place. Finally, near the beginning of my junior year, the nagging feeling turned into something much louder, and I started consulting people that I considered to be my mentors. They all said the same thing – “have you prayed about it?” My answer was always that yes, I had prayed about it. In fact, I prayed about it a lot. However, the reason I kept praying about it was because I was hoping the answer to my question would change.  When I look back on it, I was being absolutely ridiculous. When you’re praying about a decision in your life and you get a clear answer, don’t hesitate to act on it. More than likely, God isn’t just going to be like “Ehhh…you know that thing I told you the other day? I changed my mind. Do this instead!”

I remember the night when I made the decision to move back home. I had been sitting on the floor in my dorm room for about 30 minutes while staring at my phone. The thought of calling my parents to tell them I needed to leave school and come home literally made me feel nauseous. I had run through all of the possible scenarios and reactions in my head about 100 times before I actually picked up the phone and started dialing. Thankfully, my parents were both very understanding and supported me in my decision. For that reason alone, I am incredibly thankful to have them as parents. After I finished the conversation that I had been dreading for quite a while, I just sat in my room for another hour and cried. However, it wasn’t because I was sad…it was because I was relieved. I had been so blind to the amount of fear and anxiety I had let into my life as a result of holding on to a dead season for so long. After I pulled myself together a bit, I went to Prayer Movement.

In a nutshell, Prayer Movement is a student-led time of prayer and worship that happens every week night at ORU. It’s usually a pretty small group and I absolutely loved those times. When I walked into the room, I found a place around the corner from the majority of the people, sat on the floor and just rested. Within a few minutes, a girl that I had met a couple of times during the semester came up to me and said that she saw a vision of me and wanted to share it. Let me preface this by saying that because I went to a Christian school, I was always a little bit skeptical when someone said they “had a word” or “had a vision” for me. So I was a bit hesitant to listen, but as she told me about her vision, my jaw dropped a bit. In a nutshell, she said that she saw me as a piece of paper that God had begun to fold…and when He was finished, he had folded it into a paper airplane and sent it off. Then she said “I don’t know exactly what that means to you or in what capacity He is sending you, but God is about to send you into some pretty big things.” Basically, I started bawling. Honestly, I think I freaked her out a bit, but then I went on to explain everything that had literally JUST happened an hour before. That confirmation not only gave me peace, but it gave me the strength to follow through with moving home.

And let me tell you guys something. 

I’m SO thankful I moved back home. The relationships / community I’ve found since moving back to Charlotte is way better than anything I could have imagined. It’s funny, when we imagine scenarios in our head, we tend to leave God and His favor out of the picture. When I think about where I would be at this point if I would have kept holding on to my past season, it makes me feel a bit sick. Yes, I still miss the community I had in Tulsa, but it’s important to realize that we can’t stay in a single season forever. The process of letting go was something that brought me past the end of my rope, but sometimes, that’s the only way we can fully put ourselves in the arms of the Father.