Those who read my blog regularly know that I recently started my own photography business, and just last week I had my first client (who, by the way, was thrilled with the pictures!) But what you don’t know is that about a month ago, I almost gave it all up. I was feeling incredibly discouraged regarding my abilities and it seemed like I’d never “get it right.” Like many firstborns, I tend to have a strong leaning toward perfectionism. And like many perfectionists, I’ve always had the tendency to give up if I couldn’t do things perfectly. It’s not that I didn’t know it would take time to learn something, it’s that if it took too long and I didn’t feel like I was learning it fast enough, I wanted to quit. This is what happened that day when I wanted give up. I was discouraged, upset, and ready to throw in the towel (if you’re not a perfectionist, you wont understand why I’d want to quit so soon. If you are, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.) I was tired of trying (for all of two months) and not getting it “right.” And I hated that I couldn’t compare with what others could do (never mind the fact that I was trying to compare with people who are the best in the business and have been doing this for years and years!)
Photography isn’t the only place where this type of perfectionism has reared it’s ugly head. Until somewhat recently, I hated trying new things in the kitchen. When I did try something new, I made everyone around me miserable because of my need to follow each recipe EXACTLY. By that I mean that a teaspoon of salt must be leveled before poured in the mix, a “medium” egg should not be used if the recipe calls for a “large” egg, and something that is supposed to cook at 350 cannot go into the oven with something cooking at 400. (In truth, I still do this to some extent, but thanks to the sage words of my mother-in-law [“you’re not getting graded on it!”], I’m getting better.)
The thing about trying to be perfect is that it often keeps us from even trying. Just the other day, a friend and I were talking about how she hasn’t tried to sew anything for about five years because the first outfits she made were so difficult for her. How sad that we give up something we might really enjoy simply because we couldn’t “get it right” the first time!
That day, when I was feeling so discouraged, I asked my husband to pray for me regarding my desire to give up. I knew that by giving in to my frustration I would only be hurting myself. The truth is that I love taking pictures and I needed to give myself permission to make mistakes. Just before my first paid photo shoot, I read something that impacted me greatly. You can read the entire article Here, but for now, I’ll quote the words that gave me so much hope that day when I was dreading my upcoming shoot. She writes:
“The next morning I told JD I quit photography. Honest. Hand to heaven. I quit and swore to never return. Because, really, I messed up THAT badly. Then JD reminded me that this was supposed to happen. I was supposed to fail. And learn. And cry. Because that’s what the process of building a business is all about.”
These words have given me the confidence to move forward, no matter the results. I refuse to be a slave to my own desire for perfection. I refuse to stop doing something I love just because I might do it badly. The only way to learn is to keep trying, right? After all, I’m not being graded on it!