I photoshopped a picture of my son the other day.
We wanted to post pictures of his newly missing front teeth, but he had a huge scab on his nose (that isn’t ordinarily there). So we popped open the Photoshop app on my phone and erased it.
As you can imagine, a six-year-old boy thought that was SO cool. He started messing around with deleting his eyeballs and his entire nose etc. . . When we finished, I couldn’t help but wonder what I’d done there.
What seeds of thought did I plant in his mind?
I recently got the app on my phone to use for images for Shop by Heartstories. If there’s a wall outlet or a window sill distracting my eye it’s much easier to just remove it from the photo afterward, than it is to rearrange the furniture in real life. You can simply pop open the app, touch the blemish and it’s gone. Voila!
Believe it or not, I’ve never actually used it on a face or person at all.
At least not until that moment, looking at an image of my (perfect) little baby with his darling empty space. Then seeing this big, glaring brown spot on his nose. It was a distraction. It was imperfect and I knew I could fix it.
Was that photo imperfect?
Yes, he might have looked back years from now and wonder what in the world that brown spot on his nose was. But, a better lesson might have been, for him to see the brown spot and be comfortable with knowing it was on his nose when he lost his two front teeth. That it’s what six-year-old boys look like.
That moment has been on my mind a lot this week, as I wrestle daily with my own desire for perfection.
My words say that I value imperfection, that it’s what makes art and life beautiful. That putting something imperfect out into the world, is a practice of greatness. But in reality, it’s really hard to do.
I’m constantly, I mean CONSTANTLY, thinking about the image that HeartStories portrays. I want to make sure every word comes out right, that every color matches perfectly, every post or project is well planned and executed. When I find a misspelled word or a sentence that makes no sense, I immediately correct it.
Perfecting things is an easy distraction from doing work that really matters.
Organizing my desk, rewriting my to-do list, re-reading the blog, cleaning out my inbox by responding to everyone who is waiting. . . they are all things that give me a temporary feeling of satisfaction.
Everything is temporarily perfect.
Until my desk doesn’t stay organized, the list grows, I write another blog, and 10 more emails pile up.
And here we go again.
I’m learning that the real beauty, happens in the moment I see the messy desk, and get to work anyway. It happens when I hear the dinging of the inbox and ignore it, staying focused on the current priority instead.
It happens especially when I know people are waiting on me and somehow, I let myself rest in their perceived judgment. When I let go of the need to make sure everyone is happy and likes me, I can actually do the work that will make their lives better, in spite of what they think of me.
It’s the most productive, most beautiful process, but it is NOT easy.
It’s the irony of getting comfortable with something that feels SO uncomfortable.
I wonder if there’s an area of your life you might want to cozy up to?
Is there a place you feel like you’re constantly racing to measure up, needing to prove that you’re good enough?
What if for today, you called it out?
What if you literally said, I see you there, I know you’re not perfect, and I’m going to get cozy doing what matters anyway. I’m going to do this more important thing, even if you taunt me.
I don’t know if it’s your hair and make-up, your house, your inbox, your writing, your spreadsheets or your social media that is begging you to perfect it. But whatever it is threatening to make you uncomfortable, try ignoring it today.
You might be surprised at how much good you’ll get done.
Then, try ignoring it again tomorrow.
Over time and practice, you will start to get a little more comfortable with imperfection.
And that’s when your real beauty will shine through.
To more love,