I am not a perfectionist.
Not by a long shot.
There are things I would have loved to devote more time to, but I never found a way to carve out a space that was big enough for me to fill with artistic ambition. In some daydreams, I’m a famous writer. Others, a painter, a musician, or a photographer.
But I’m not any of those things.
Being a generalist rather than a specialist, I do a lot of different things passably well, and a whole bunch not-so-well. That has led me to grow the attitude of ‘good enough.’ I write a lot of words, some of them work, others need to be weeded out. I take lots of pictures, some of them I like enough to print off and hang on my wall. But often I look back at my pictures and think ‘Why did I took that shot?’ [Good thing digital pictures cost nothing to take and then delete!] And I play music that I think sounds great, but I know that really it’s on a scale of crap to maybe passably good. I often get the urge to paint or draw, but the results hardly ever match what I have in my mind.
When I’m tired or particularly frustrated, I ponder on how things would have been different had I made different choices. What if I had focused on one thing, like the visual arts? Or photography? Would I have had the dedication to spend hours and energy on just one passion? Would I have been able to let all other things drop to the sidelines? Could I be that obsessively dedicated? And if I was, would I have attained success and – here’s the reality factor – would I make enough money to eat?
I would starve.
Demands, like working (actual money-earning work), maintaining my habitat (inside and outside the building), feeding myself and my self-induced family (shopping for, preparing, consuming food), all those activities left little time (and energy!) to pursue artistic endeavours. Yet those demands can also rewarding and invigorating-like artistic pursuits.
And Me? I like my creature comforts – a habitat and fun with my loved ones. Those things require payment. To earn money, we have to balance our dreams with the real world. It's a balancing act. But even though paying jobs eat up time and energy, they can be creative. I’ve had stimulating and energizing work-days, and I head home satisfied from by being productive and helpful.
And, occasionally, I find the time to exercise my artistic side. I know a lot of people who balance these things much more effectively than I do, and I truly admire their perseverance. And ponder my lack thereof.
There's another reality factor around my inability to focus on the arts: My natural defeatism.
It would have stifled me, it would lift up the blinders that I would need to have to focus on art while keeping at bay everything else life has to offer. That fear-of-missing-out would nag me from the edges of my mind. I listen too closely to that annoying voice in my head that says pessimistic things – listen to what so-and-so says because they sound like they know what they’re talking about; or, be like that person since they’re successful at (fill in the creative endeavour).
Regrets lurk like alligators under the water's surface.
I try to deal with them by looking on the bright side. But some days… those days when the ‘what-ifs’ find me, days where I’m especially bored or tired. Or straight out depressed. That’s when I see, or imagine I see, someone brave enough to take the deep plunge into the artistic waters and ended up successful and happy. Jealousy/regrets/envy become the three horses dragging me through my apocalypse. Yet I know that for each person who made their life’s passion their focus, there are probably a gazillion who had the talent and the drive, but not the success. I’m sure I would be in that very large yet unlucky group.
So I'll settle with dabbling in the arts. I try. I carry on dreaming and imagining…
I hope your regrets are few and your triumphs are many. If you turn to some form of creative fun, be drawing, writing, reading, gardening, sky-diving, glass-blowing…let me know. And if you have a way of overcoming self-doubts, please share. I could really use coping ideas. And thanks for following all the way to the end of my pity-party. :)