f you missed Part I of this post, you can read about how doing Project Life has been like going to the therapist. That hasn’t been the only unexpected effect of scrapbooking, though…I’ve also started to come to terms with my perfectionism.
You’ve probably seen this phrase before:
Originally a thought of Voltaire’s, it’s taken on various iterations on the internet and was mused upon in detail in Gretchen Ruben’s wonderful book The Happiness Project.
Every time I come across it, I nod in wise agreement. “Ah yes, how foolish of us to let the idea of perfection come between us and finishing a project. Done is better than perfect and undone. So obvious!” Then I smooth out my imaginary smoking jacket and take a puff from my imaginary cigar.
Here’s what I’m beginning to discover, though…it’s so easy for me to THINK I grasp a concept and am totally on board – but until I’ve been faced with it head on, it’s all just theory.
Voltaire was just theory to me until I undertook this challenge of catching up on a year’s worth of Project Life in a short month. (Full disclaimer: I have not made it through the woods yet. I’m currently on October. The quest will continue into the first week of March.)
I quickly realized that my perfectionist tendencies were NOT WELCOME at this Project Life party. I used to do layouts where absolutely everything looked right to me. No photo corner was left unrounded, no journaling card left unembellished. This took forever. Allow me to show you an example:
Notice how I had to cut all those photos down to fit in those pockets? And see the glittery stickers and the date stamp?
Look! Here are more glittery stickers AND the cutest paperclip you’ve ever seen, all contained in my very first Project Life album.
This method was do-able when I was on top of things and only had a couple pages to complete at each sitting. Now that I was faced with 12 months of layouts, though, it was a different story.
I decided to TRY to be a little faster. “I’ll just try it for a couple layouts,” I thought. “For kicks, I’ll go as fast as possible and throw caution to the wind. Nothing fancy, little to no embellishing. If it doesn’t look quite right then who cares? Just keep going! I am a Project Life warrior!”
Sometimes the photo quality wasn’t great (see the upper right hand picture):
JUST KEEP GOING!
Sometimes the card from the opposite side of the pocket peeked through…note the black and white stripes that are edging the middle photo of Bobby and me:
Shush, perfectionism! JUST KEEP GOING!
Sometimes all the photos didn’t totally go together. For example, when I visited my family in South Dakota this summer, I helped go through some paperwork and do some organizing. My sister Leah was building a tiny house. Those are two separate topics…in my first Project Life album, I would have stressed over how to make those into separate layouts so it made total sense when you’re flipping through. This time? Smoosh them into the same layout! JUST KEEP GOING!
And you know what? It was SO FREEING. There was no longer this internal pressure of making everything look just right. The main goal was getting things archived and having a relatively beautiful album to look through years from now. I started flying through layouts.
It’s not that I was oblivious to the imperfection – I actually couldn’t believe how many times my internal perfectionist chimed in and how many times I had to remind myself of my new mantra: done is better than perfect, done is better than perfect. It takes a lot to re-wire your brain…but it is possible.
Voltaire! I finally get it! I’m your biggest fan!
I’m sure I’ll face this monster of perfectionism many times in my life. But I’m glad to have had this experience – where I looked at that monster, shrugged my shoulders, and said “watch if you want, but I’m ignoring you right now.” May I suggest that you do the same this upcoming week?
Come on. Do it. Let’s be perfectly imperfect together and MAKE STUFF HAPPEN.