Embracing mistakes

Like a lot of people, I always want everything to be perfect. So, I plan, plan, and over plan until I’m so overwhelmed with how long something is taking me or by the number of possible mistakes, that I end up feeling that dreadful shadow of impending failure lurking behind me. This is a big part of why I never get anything done: I let myself be too afraid to even start.

There’s always an excuse: I don’t have the right materials for a project (even though I have a giant stash of fabrics and threads I never use). I don’t have the skill (even though I’m smart and a relatively fast learner). I’m not good enough at that craft/etc. (even though no one is expecting me to be perfect, except me).

The list goes on.

How I end up trying anything new is beyond me. I guess sometimes I just somehow get over that “just get started” hump and suddenly find that, as I always “knew”, I can do it. Sometimes I need a friend to get me to cross that line. Sometimes I need that fear of being embarrassed if I don’t finish something I promised someone (I’m working on the pillow, M, honest!).

One thing that I’m finding as I get more comfortable with my body, my mind, my beliefs, and everything else that makes up me is that I’m learning to let go.

This mistake (one of many I made when making a quilt for my niece this past Christmas) would have had me on the brink of frustrated tears a year or so ago. Now, despite how much I adore my niece and how much I want everything I ever make for her to be perfect, I’m able to let it go. Not easily, but I can let it go.

This kind of mistake used to really stress me out and I'd always fix it. Now I don't worry too much. Quilting's more fun when you don't aim for perfection. #quilting

That got me thinking: how many things do I avoid because I’m afraid of imperfection?

1. Knitting. I can do some basic knitting, but I’m not very good at it. And, yet, I desperately want this scarf. So, I might need to break down, buy some really beautiful wool, and just go for it. It won’t be perfect, but even with mistakes, I bet it would be beautiful.

2. Sketching. I used to be a really prolific, and, I think, fairly good artist … 20 years ago. I think it might be time for me to just start doodling and sketching more. Instead of collection other people’s pictures in Pinterest, maybe I should start drawing things.

3. Lomography/film photography. I was really into it a few years ago, but haven’t really touched my film cameras in a year, at least. It’s not the cost, though that would factor in to how much I do, it’s really just that I’ve been too lazy to really learn anything useful about photography. But, even with my lack of knowledge, I used to take some (accidentally) interesting pictures (this is one of my favourites).

4. About a million cross stitch, quilt, embroidery, etc. patterns I’ve hoarded but never used. I need to start doing some of them. Any of them. Even just one from every one of the dozens of books I’ve collected, to justify keeping them.

5. About a million cross stitch, quilt, embroidery, etc. ideas. I’m so inspired by other people’s work and even by the materials I find, so I have a tonne of ideas, I just haven’t had the courage to do any of them. These threads, for example. For some reason, Cleopatra made me think of bees and I have a really cool idea using the hexies from Liz’s Hexiepuff pattern, but I’ve only just recently gotten around to picking out the threads and trying to start figuring out how to make what’s in my head happen.

I’m not going to suddenly become hugely productive over night, but I’m hoping that I will start getting better at taking the risk and at least trying something.


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