Perfect is Boring

I’m going to come out and admit something: I’m not what you would call a very good “crafty” or “DIY person.” I have a story to share with you that explains this more.

Back in April of this year, I was on a women’s leadership retreat in Bali.

I was there to get away from the usual hustle and bustle of running my business—to do yoga with the sunrise, meditate while overlooking the rice fields, eat nourishing organic food, and be in a space of sisterhood with the amazing women in attendance. After the first few days of adjusting to the leisurely pace of the retreat, I was feeling really good. All the stress of life had melted away and I was feeling relaxed, playful, and full of life.

And then something happened when I was least expecting it.

The retreat leaders thought it would be fun for the locals to lead us in making traditional Balinese offering baskets. You see these baskets everywhere in the country—filled with colored flowers and incense—to pay tribute to the Hindu gods and goddesses and bring a feeling of sacred significance to every moment in their lives.

My inner dabblist yelped in delight when I found out we were going to be dabbling.

So I was the first one to sit down and listened eagerly as the local village woman led us through how to secure the coconut leaves with a small twig and then fold the leaves over to create the basket shape. But I quickly started to feel some strange sensations in my body. My heart started pounding, my cheeks became warm and flushed, and my breath moved up into my chest. I was feeling anxious and a tad frustrated.

Why? Because I wasn’t good at making Balinese offering baskets!

The teacher had to come over to me, undo my work, and re-do it herself in order for my basket to stay intact and actually keep flower petals in it.

How mortifying. I am The Dabblist. This should not be happening to me.

I was visibly frustrated—moaning and groaning in frustration that I couldn’t do it perfectly.

And then, one of the women on the retreat looked straight at me and said, “Becca, we’re dabbling! Enjoy the experience and release attachment to the outcome. This is fun!”

Oh….right. That’s what I say, don’t I?

Dabbling in creativity isn’t about getting the perfect end result. Exploring creativity is about being in the moment and getting present to what is unfolding from within you. The way your hands want to fold the coconut leaf. Which flowers you are drawn to and where you want to place them. That aha moment when the teacher shows you the way she does it and all of a sudden you can see things in an entirely new perspective. Dabbling is about intuition and trust and awe.

For a moment, I had forgotten that.

And I’m so grateful I did, because it brought me back to my work—to a space of joy and ease with creativity. My work is my medicine.

Perfection is a tough thing to shed, but I am committed to exploring that in my life. My guess is you are on the same path as me, which is why you’re here.

It’s OK if we burn the Thanksgiving gravy or don’t tie the bow perfectly.

What matters is that we got in there. We told our inner perfectionist to shut it and dabbled.

In the words of Elizabeth Gilbert, “Mastery is boring.”

Let’s shed those gremlin-y beliefs that we should be masters at all things and stop chasing perfect. Let’s get our hands dirty and play. Even if we aren’t very good at it.

Have you ever come across this moment where you were frustrated by how not-perfect you were with doing something new? Will you commit to stop chasing perfect with me?

Leave a comment below and let’s continue the conversation!

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