"Hi, I'm Nicole and I am a recovering perfectionist."
"Hi, um, I don't know where to begin, but I guess it's been since middle school that I never felt like I fit in. I was always made fun of, and always too small. I guess you could call me the Lizzie McGuire of real life. But, I didn't have the cool 2000's hairstyles she had, or those awesome eighth grade trendy clothes. I was just, meh. I wasn't popular because I was cool, I was popular because everyone knew me as the girl they could make fun of. It even went so far that my sixth grade crush called me ugly, and I carried that with me for years; so I grew up thinking I had to be perfect and do all the right things to be well-liked. So, I worked on it and it spun out of control…"
This Is Me. And This Is Where It All Began. If These Types Of Meetings Existed, And I Attended, This Is Exactly What I Would Say.
Listen, I know I am still pretty new to this whole blogging game and still don't write as consistently as I would like. I'm working on it, I assure you. BUT, if there is one thing I do know and consider myself an expert on it's this: I am an expert on being a introverted perfectionistic wallflower. There, I said it and I feel better. Even today, I go through periods where I think I am not good enough and I am here to tell all of us -- STOP IT.
Stop right now thinking you aren't good enough, and stop looking at other's works thinking "Wow, what a cool concept. I wish I could have done it". Because honestly, those people are probably thinking the same thing about someone else.
I proudly hold the title of Recovering Perfectionist, and before any controversy gets started about me making fun of the anonymous groups, let me explain. I am not making fun of anyone because being a perfectionist is an obsessive behavior for me. When I type something and it's not "good enough" I have to backspace and retype, then backspace again. This process continues sometimes all night long. Then, I get frustrated and close my laptop screen and stay awake, frustrated for hours on end because I can't get it "right". Or, if I am retouching an image and it's not "perfect", I have to start over about 5-10 times, and then, I look at the clock and realize that I have spent an hour and a half beating myself up because my image isn't the best of the best when really, it was fine the first 10 times I started. I could seriously go on and on about what I am not "good" with. There is a list of things I literally OBSESS over that I waste so much of my precious time, and it has to end. That is happening NO MORE from me. Why? I am sick of not being good enough.
And compared to whom? I'm not competing with other photographers and bloggers. Call me a recluse, but I don't know of any other photography bloggers who consistently write about building yourself up simply because I don't go searching for them. This is personal for me. I am not going to find it in someone else's writing styles. And I am not looking at what others are doing anymore.
AND IF THIS IS YOU - I AM TELLING YOU RIGHT NOW. STOP. IF YOU ARE LOOKING AT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING TO FIGURE OUT WHY YOU AREN'T GOOD ENOUGH, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. IT'S NOT ABOUT THEM. IT'S ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT TO DO.
My amazing friend Jazmyn told me this the other night when I told her I didn't know what my "style" was anymore. I don't mean editing. I mean just me, my photography style when I click the shutter. I kept asking myself, "how do I explain what my work looks like to others?"
She told me in frank terms, that it doesn't matter. What matters is you do what you do and make sure it comes from your heart. Everything else will fall into place.
Man, if that wasn't on point. So, what did I do with her advice? I edited my website and included Lifestyle Photography again. Why? Because it's my love. I can't do the posed, styled stuff the way I capture natural emotion. It's not me. Do I love it? YES, I freaking love it. But, it's not in my heart. I can't pull that out the way others do. Not because I haven't tried, because I certainly have, but because it's not a natural feeling to me.
I am also not telling you to give up on something that is difficult. By no means, do I want anyone to say, "I am not good enough no matter how much I try, so I am going to give up because I am not amazing at it".
What I AM saying is this -- If it doesn't feel natural and you are spending more time being frustrated with not getting it right, and it's more of a headache, then pause and reevaluate. Look into your heart and find what you are really into. If it feels more like a chore and you are getting burnt out, take a look at why, find that different perspective to get what you are trying to accomplish done. Detour. Change is good and embrace it. See my post here for how I learned this lesson the hard way.
I am also saying that being "perfect" at something shouldn't be a main priority. I am NOT the best photographer out there and I could find an infinite amount of other bloggers and photographers who would blow me out of the water.
But that's okay too. On the scale of who's better, the truth is, it's all subjective. I may be the best blogger person A has ever come across, while person B may think I am the worst in the world and should find another joy. Whatever.
I will tell you, no matter what anyone else thinks, I know this - Being perfect sucks. Strive to feel confident in what you do, but don't obsess over it.
Do what you love, and love yourself for it. These lessons are things I have learned from my personal life that carry over professionally if I don't fix them. The "good enough" spectrum isn't meant to be a competition. It's meant to be something to grade yourself on. And even then, it's just a progress report of where your path is going to carry you. It's meant to determine your satisfaction. My only wish -- that I had known that little tidbit of information in eighth grade where it all began.
So, hello, I am Nicole. And I am a recovering perfectionist.