I went to Paris again earlier this year, and it was a bit of a surprise trip. This time it was with a friend that had never been to Paris, let alone out of the country. Seeing it through her eyes, and allowing someone else to set the agenda, was a great experience. I didn’t have any expectations and her agenda turned out to be awesome- shopping, eating, shopping, eating, drinking, shopping. And all girlie- lingerie, shoes and perfume. I LOVED it.
Just when I thought I had finally merged my creative and business sides together, and felt very well balanced, we had a moment in Paris that reminded me that I still have work to do. We made our own perfume at this adorable place in the Marais. We spent 2-3 hours at this place smelling all kinds of different “notes” and combining to make the perfect scent. I was so excited and yet I felt this sudden panic- what if screw it up? What if I create something that literally stinks? I got a little stressed thinking about how I was going to create the perfect combination and my friend asked me quite clearly- do you know what you like? Yes, I do. Do you know what smells good to you? Yes, I do. Then what are you afraid of? Well, I’m bad at math, and what if I mix the wrong amounts and it doesn’t add up correctly and I spent all this time and money creating something terrible? In short, I was being ridiculous. I didn’t need to be a math genius, and if it didn’t smell good, we would start again. Worst case, I would just buy a bottle of something else. All I had to do was know what smelled good to me. I had no problem being decisive about what I liked, I just got scared when thinking about how other people might feel about it. (And by the way, it ended up smelling great! I might actually make more and sell it- but that wasn’t the intent.)
And then I remembered that I was there for fun. I was there to play. I went in with no agenda, so why a sudden agenda? I always felt so much pressure in life to do something perfect or not do it at all, and I have no idea where this comes from. My parents never taught me that. My friends didn’t teach me that. I grew up in a very “its okay to try” world, so what the hell was wrong with me? I just think that some people are born with this idea that if its not perfect, don’t bother. And that is so, so so lame. Its only taken me 4o some years, but I finally realized that you just have to do what you’re driven to do without any expectations of how it turns out. Even if you’re a terrible artist/singer/writer/skater/swimmer/whatever- if you are driven to do it- do it. Do it for you. Do it because it’s in you and its there for a reason. Do it like your life depends on it, but then again, know that your life doesn’t depend on it- so don’t overanalyze it. Don’t let perfectionism keep you from creating. If you struggle with this, read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert- she articulates this whole bs perfectionist/procrastinator thing much better than I can. We’re not all meant to change the world with our creativity, but that doesn’t mean we can’t change ourselves with it.