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Project 365 Days 11 – 24: Hey, Post About Perfectionism – Your Title Sucks

A handful of M & Ms candy on a white tableOne of the most interesting things about working through this 365-day photo project is the effect it’s had on me psychologically. Or emotionally. Or however you want to characterize it.

This is about so much more than just taking photos, and posting them, or learning the technical ins-and-outs of my camera.

This is about looking at myself. It’s about being honest with myself.

It’s about vulnerability.

Mirrors on display in a hardware storeMy god. It feels like fear and vulnerability are the ONLY things I ever talk about on this blog anymore, which is not what I expected to happen when I took on this project. Of course, I knew that it was scary and challenging, and that it would touch on my insecurities, but I never really expected it to be quite as intense as it has been.

I’m scared of failing.

I’m scared of being judged inadequate.

I think I have allowed perfectionism to rule me for most of my life. To very nearly DESTROY me. Not just as it pertains to photography, but also to my acting career, to my writing, to any number of my interests and activities — to almost EVERYTHING I have ever done.

PERFECTIONISM — this need to please, to impress, to be liked, appreciated, validated and judged worthy by OTHER PEOPLE — has made me play small. Made me shrink, and hide.

A black and white photo of a messy desk in a sunlit officeAnd I feel shitty about it.

You can’t learn if you do that, or at least you’ll learn very slowly, and very painfully.

Anne Lamott wrote about this recently on facebook. Her words hit me squarely in the heart when I read them. They’re still reverberating in my head. But, I’m not sure I would have felt them so keenly if it weren’t for this 365 photo project. Her words are so dead-on. Perfectionism isn’t just the ‘great enemy of the writer’, but also of the photographer, the actor and …

… of life, our sweet messy beautiful screwed up human lives. It is the voice of the oppressor. It will keep you very scared and restless your entire life if you do not awaken, and fight back, and if you’re an artist, it will destroy you.

The last 24 days have really brought this into sharp focus for me.

[No pun intended. I swear.]

See, photography is my Other Dream Job. It’s how I want to support myself. It’s the business that I want to build so that I can still be an actor. But, I HATE just about every picture I take. Just like I hate almost everything I write. Or think every performance I create in front of a camera or a mic or on a stage leaves something (or everything) to be desired.

Mannequins on display at Nick Metropolis's Carnival of Treasures in Los AngelesWhen I started this project, I wrote that one of my biggest fears was that I would slack off and end up posting crappy pictures that I’d put little effort into. Well, I’m only 24 days in, and I’ve already done that. Some days I’ve neglected my camera and run out of time, or taken too few pictures (given my abilities) and none of them turned out, but I have to post something, so I edit them as best I can and throw them up online.

Meanwhile, perfectionism screams at me to stop doing it. To stop REVEALING my shortcomings to the world, lest I be judged unworthy. It tells me that if I present a less-than-perfect face to you people, then photography as a business (among other things) will become an impossibility for me.

The lights and colors of oncoming traffic seen through a rain-soaked windshieldIn fact, perfectionism is telling me right now NOT to publish this very post. It’s telling me that it would be a MISTAKE to tell this particular truth. But I’m going to defer to Anne Lamott again, who wrote that the way to break through perfectionism, is to make a lot of mistakes.

So, I’m posting this sucker. And I’m gonna let you judge me for it.

And now I’m gonna get back to work. Because that’s the only way to fight this, and it’s the only way to make sure that I don’t, in the end, break my own heart.

Enjoy my crappy pictures.

The rest of them are on my Flickr page.

~k

Creative Commons License All photographic images in this post are by Kim Faires and are licensed under a Creative Commons.

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