I’m a perfectionist.
In high school I would go home early from slumber parties to write papers days in advance, just so I had time to triple-check them. I’m not proud of this. There were so many wonderful growing-up experiences I missed out on as a result.
I wasn’t always this way.
In elementary school I had to sit next to the messy little boys because I was equally messy and the teacher couldn’t cope with our piles of schoolbooks and belongings. I was wiggly, energetic, and would rather draw pictures and finger paint than sit still and learn about addition and subtraction.
Somewhere along the way, this was socialized out of me, and with it I lost my ability to be daring and original. I was too afraid to make my own mark. And I missed out on a lot of great experiences because of it.
Perfectionism is the enemy to originality. But the core me—the childlike me who can’t sit still because she wants to create—is still there.
Painting helps me access her bravery. Painting BIG helps me access her boldness.
The video below chronicles my creative process the first time I went “big” with a painting. I had just experienced a string of failed romantic relationships and was FED UP. Trump had just been inaugurated. I felt restless, angry, distrustful of men, and powerless. So I reclaimed that power. I went to the art store, bought the biggest canvas I could find, then went back and bought an even bigger one.
I deliberately picked a canvas that heightened my sense of “OMG this is too big—I better not mess it up!” so that I could work through that feeling and overcome it.
Before this breakthrough, I had been sticking with small 11×14 watercolors, which were easier to contain. I hadn’t busted out my acrylics in years—mostly because I felt like I needed to take that class or watch that tutorial or have enough money to buy that nice expensive jar of paint in order to do this. Nope. Those were all excuses fueled by the voice of my inner Perfectionist. She wanted me to hide, to play small.
There was something so fucking liberating about doing this.
I painted all afternoon outside in my cutoffs on a 75-degree February day. I brought my canvas inside once it got dark and painted well into the wee hours of the morning. I painted until I no longer felt afraid of making a mark. I took breaks to play with my cat. I drank a glass of wine. Then I painted some more.
What about you? How are you holding back?
We are all creative beings. To be human is to be creative. Yet so often we’re socialized or pressured to leave our creativity behind.
This week I challenge you to get back in touch with your creative urges and dreams. Acknowledge the fears, the insecurities, the excuses that have been holding you back, and then press through them.
Whatever way your creativity calls out to you—whether it’s to paint, draw, dance, write, blog, cook, photograph, podcast, sing, sketch, sew—I encourage you to face your fears.
Find one thing you can do this week to embrace your creativity in a BIG WAY, and GO FOR IT! You’ll be amazed at what can happen.