“OMG you’re literally *perfect*”
“That dress is PERFECTION”
“She is actually perfect.”
How many times a day are we bombarded with this word? PERFECT. Guess what guys…its not real. Perfection isn’t a real thing, it just isn’t. I am writing this blog for everyone, but especially for moms, teens, photographers and brides. This message is important especially for you. I will get to how and why later, but first let me tell you how I finally figured out perfect and good are enemies.
Back in September I had gone through an entire season of comparison and self doubt. And I had had enough. My anxiety was through the roof and I constantly felt like I was swimming upstream trying to do more, be better, be more. We had a new house, a new baby and I had a new full time career, and I was doing what felt like an impossible juggling act. I often wondered why it felt so hard and why everyone else seemed to be doing life effortlessly most of the time. One day I was googling anxiety remedies and came across a blog with famous quotes about perfectionism and anxiety. One of them felt like a punch in the gut when I read it:
“Perfect is the enemy of good.”- Voltaire
I ended up a few weeks later with it tattooed on my arm. Reminding me in big letters everyday.
(If I was still focused on being perfect, I would have waited until I could take a professional photo of this with my “real” camera instead of using this phone picture, but I told myself NO I would USE THE PHONE PIC because this post is about the message and it is a GOOD message.)
Although I am quite sure you can understand what it means on your own, let me tell you what it means to me. It means I’m my own worst enemy. I’m the one standing in the way of my own happiness. I’m the one missing the good things because I’m working on something imaginary (perfection).
I think back to an image I once was editing. I was being really critical of my work and I just kept adding more and more to it. I changed the color tone, edited out the background, fixed this, fixed that. Until…an hour later (?!?!)…it looked WORSE. Has anyone ever done something similar when putting on eyeliner or plucking eyebrows or painting a picture? You keep “fixing” something till it ends up a mess- you have raccoon eyes, no eyebrows left, or a big blob of brown paint on your paper lol!
I realized that my constant quest to be perfect was getting in the way of things that were already good, if not great. All I had to do was get let go of the expectation for perfection. And let me tell you, it felt SO GOOD. I started to see that everything was actually pretty awesome. And the things that weren’t, I could manage and I could work on. Does this mean I don’t strive to be the best I can be? Of course not, I am always looking for ways to improve. It doesn’t mean I have any less drive. It just means I have more gratitude and try to give myself and others a little more grace.
Remember when I said this blog was for everyone- especially photographers, teens, moms, and brides? Well it is really for everyone- everyone can benefit from letting go of perfection. But let’s look at how this message directly impacts you guys I mentioned…
Teens and moms: Stop worrying about that perfect friend who seems to have it all together on social media. Chances are, she doesn’t. And even if she does- focus on you and celebrate your own successes. On the internet, we have an unlimited amount of time to prepare content to post. That “perfect” Instagram feed you follow has a messy closet and a stressed person in sweatpants behind the computer. The “perfect” mom on facebook is actually exhausted and her marriage is in jeopardy. The “perfect” girl who always looks flawless took 150 selfies and used 10 apps to get that photo to look like that. And that is OK. That Instagram feed still looks amazing. The girl isn’t any less pretty and that mom is probably still pretty awesome. But don’t hold yourself to a standard that isn’t real. I am not saying that we should dismiss or discount all the beauty in the world. I’m just saying, see it for what it is: a beautiful photo, a beautiful moment, a beautiful face, a beautiful imperfect person.
We can filter everything- literally and figuratively. Just remember social media is the highlight reel. If someone is making you feel worse- why are you following them? Stop looking! Follow people and things that make you happy. Follow things that inspire you to be better, not things that make you feel like you aren’t enough.
Photographers: Read the above, it is for you, too! Same principle. Two years ago, I started collecting inspiration from photographers by following them on social media. This year, I unfollowed. I still follow and support my close friends, and the folks who inspire me with their creativity, but those that seem to be in the club where everyone does the same cookie cutter “perfect” stuff? I hit unfollow and it was awesome.
Now I focus on me- and one step at a time, I work to be better. I do things my own way- do what works for me, my business, my family, not what everyone says is the way to do it. Now I focus on manageable goals and tasks. I focus on improving but also try to celebrate my strengths and triumphs. I foster relationships with my clients, which is what I want my business centered on. Because really, what are we doing if we aren’t celebrating moments? And, if I do make a mistake (and, I’m human, so I might at some point *gasp*), working on those relationships will mean that all of my clients know that I care about them and it will be ok.
Brides: Everyone wants their wedding day to be PERFECT. I wanted my wedding day to be perfect. But, that isn’t a real thing, so it wasn’t perfect. My own wedding day was kind of a mess. And it was also pretty awesome. I got married before Pinterest so there are SO MANY things I wish I could go back and change. But the biggest one is this: I wish I could go back to that day and let go of perfection.
I was exhausted on my wedding day because I had stayed up the night before to prepare some random little wedding details ( I literally don’t even remember which ones! So that shows you how unimportant these details really were.) I was SO upset that someone forgot bubbles that I yelled at my mom in front of all my friends (ugh can we say bridezilla moment??), I was so upset that it was SUPER hot that day and I was sweating, and the caterer didn’t light the candles, and the cake wasn’t exactly what I had envisioned, and the DJ played a few weird songs. But….I married MY BEST FRIEND. There were adorable flower girls and ring bearers and awesome family and friends, good champagne and good toasts. And we danced and laughed and I felt beautiful and happy and loved. Did any of that little STUFF matter- the bubbles or the heat or the candles or the cake? No it didn’t. But at the time, I let perfect get in the way of all the good that was happening that day. I let those things get to me, which is really sad.
So, I actually don’t want your wedding to be perfect. Because perfect is not real. On your wedding day, my wish for you is that you will be happy and grateful no matter what. Does that mean you shouldn’t plan, shouldn’t work and strive to have the day of your dreams? Heck no! Get a GORGEOUS dress, an amazing DJ and a kick ass photographer (egh-eghmm ;-)) and PLAN CAREFULLY!
The best way to maximize your wedding day (and, I think life in general) is a mix of planning and preparedness and flexibility. Plan your heart out! Be prepared! But if something goes wrong, try to smile and roll with it. Don’t let your dream of “perfection” cloud your vision on your wedding day or any other day. Don’t miss out on all the GOOD things happening because you want things perfect. A wedding day is one day of your life. It’s an important one. But it is just one day. If it rains, dance in it or take some amazing photos. If the food is cold, have another drink! Focus on family, laughter, and love and your day WILL be good.
^And now you can see why I said the post is for everyone. Because really, isn’t that what it is all about?
Anyway, guys, I am a work in progress and always will be. I work on this every single day and will have to actively work on this every day for the rest of my life (which explains why I tattooed it on my arm in big letters haha). We are all a bunch of works in progress, and that is okay. In fact, it’s ALL GOOD.
And just to test my own limits, even though I am dying to use a professional photo of myself or my family, instead, I will end with this beautifully imperfect photo of a really GOOD day with my family that a stranger snapped for us ;-P