Are you a perfectionist?
As you navigate life as an artist, nobody you meet — in collaboration or in competition — is perfect. You know this, yet still set impossibly high standards for your own creative work. You expect to transcend your flaws and shortcomings. Every time.
Are you afraid you won’t “measure up”? Do you fear imperfect work isn’t worth your time, effort, and energy? If you expect perfection, and perfection by its nature is unattainable, what exactly are you doing?
You’re torturing yourself.
The good news is if you’re aware of your own shortcomings (it’s OK to have them, it really is), you have a serious leg up. You actually understand the differences between your creations and those of, say, Bob Dylan or James Joyce, and can see what you might need to do to close the gaps.
You know you’re not number one, so you try harder.
As the Dutch scholar Erasmus put it, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” When you develop even a modest capacity for observation and execution, you’re ahead of a lot of people struggling, at square one, to put pen to paper. If you see where you’re going, you’re actually in the lead.
So relax. That next sloppy mess you create — the one that disappoints you so much — might be your most beautiful and transcendent yet.