Striving to be perfect is overrated. There, I’ve said it and you know what? The sky didn’t fall, the earth didn’t stop spinning and the world didn’t come to an end. Certainly, though, I feel a huge sense of relief and maybe you do too.
I had a conversation with a woman at my workplace recently. She had misplaced an item and was working herself into a state of anxiety, mixed with anger and disbelief. Over and over, she kept muttering, quite seriously, “I can’t have lost it. I don’t let myself make mistakes. I am perfect and I have a faultless life. I don’t make mistakes.” I was horrified and took a step back from her in case she self-combusted from all the internal friction.
Since then, my recollection of that woman’s reaction to what I thought was a trivial matter has stayed with me. What had happened in her life to result in that behaviour? Why did she feel that being perfect was the only way to live? What a heavy burden she is carrying through her life. I think it is a sad way to live.
It seems an impossible quest, to be perfect and without flaws. This isn’t to say we should not endeavour for continuous self-improvement – that’s different. Developing our skills and opening our minds are ongoing processes that will often enhance our lives, but there is a huge difference between striving for improvement and forcing ourselves to be unfeasibly perfect.
The same applies with our quilt making. There really are no such things as perfect stitches or flawless quilts. Even those showstoppers and prize-winning quilts have tiny imperfections, often only seen by the makers. Our enjoyment and appreciation of these quilts is not diminished, though, as we focus on the skill of the maker and the beauty of the design and are in awe of the results.
As we stitch our pieces of fabric together, as we rearrange sections to form patterns more pleasing to our eyes, we try to improve our techniques and our design skills. Attempting to become better at what is important to us is a human desire, but sometimes I wonder if we are too hard on ourselves, demanding too much.
Being overly critical of our own quilts and taking to heart what other people think of our creations will not help us develop our own style and our own way of self-expression. What it will do, though, is make us fearful and mistrusting of our own judgements. Advice is useful, harsh censure is not.
We need to be gentle with ourselves and acknowledge that we are fallible. No one is perfect and nor do I think anyone should aim to be. So the next time you see wonky stitches in my quilts, please don’t think less of me. Just accept that I’m human.