Practice Doesn't Make Perfect | Teen Ink

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

April 14, 2014
By ctrisha3 SILVER, Phoenix, Arizona
ctrisha3 SILVER, Phoenix, Arizona
6 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Almost every painting has a few layers of paint. Chip away at the final product and below lie colors never meant to be seen. Chip away a little more, and you will find lines and marks to guide the painting. After all the layers come together, the painting is supposed to be perfect for the artist to sign it. However as an artist myself, I never find myself satisfied with my own work. My projection of the final project and the actual outcome fail to match. I only get more and more frustrated with the painting especially when I see others surpass me. Perfection is always the goal but not many remind you of the struggles that come before reaching it.

Throughout my life I have been a bit competitive. I never flaunted it but internally I could not stand other people being better than I. I have been like this for as long as I can remember since my parents always wanted me to be “on top”. They wanted me to be the best; therefore I wanted the same. From early on I had a goal in mind to get the best score on a spelling test or run faster than someone at recess. Being competitive is what motivated me when I was barely four feet tall.

In middle school, I realized how many other smart and fast people there were. It became obvious that I was not the best anymore. I was discouraged and did not want to try anymore because, to me, there was no point in putting any more effort than the next person if I was not number one. I assumed my parents stopped being as proud of me because they bragged less about me to family friends. This discouraged me even more. I thought I let had down my parents and I did not know how to fix it. My grades stopped being stellar, I never practiced for piano, I stopped trying to paint, all because my motivation to do anything had dropped tremendously. I wanted to be perfect, but I did not know how.

When high school started, I was at a new school with new peers in a new city. I decided to try and get back my motivation and start over. But classes in high school proved to be more of a challenge than classes in middle school, and I had forgotten how to achieve. I spent my last few years doing the bare minimum to get by. Even if I wanted to excel, I could not. My goal of straight A’s for my first semester in high school was demolished, and I was devastated. I became so embarrassed by the B’s glaring on my report card that I lied to my friends and parents about them.

I continued to strive to be perfect each semester but always made one bad stroke that offset everything. I began to forget my hobbies and controlled by this perfect mind set. I realized I only went to school to get a grade and not knowledge. School was not the only thing I needed to be good in. Sports, clubs, looks, everything. There could not be one department I was lacking in if I wanted to be perfect. When my senior year of high school started, I finally noticed I had been trying to live a life not worth living. I lived for other people to notice I was perfect when I knew inside all the imperfections I hid. I built up layers and layers of paint on canvas to try and hide the bad strokes or wrong colors. I was not living for myself and that was a problem.

My senior year I picked up painting again and enrolled myself in the honors art course in school. I had initially stopped painting because I decided I did not have enough talent to be an artist. Art was one of my most frustrating classes compared to all my AP courses oddly enough. I still had this perfectionist mind set when it came to art so I would work on paintings for months at a time to my teacher’s chagrin. I put time and effort into each stroke but was never satisfied. The color would be off, the sizes would not match, objects would be too flat, just something was always off. I would add layer after layer of paints trying to get to perfection until I was forced to sign a painting and to move on the next project. I was content with some paintings but I could always point out the flaws.

Towards the end of my senior year, my art teacher gave us more freedom with our art projects. I selected a picture from a field trip that I wanted to paint and finally got the chance. The picture was simply a bee sitting upon a yellow flower. I bought a huge square canvas for the occasion and started my work. I spent time at home working on the drawing rather than my essays. This may have hurt my English grade, but it helped me. I was finally getting excited and motivated to do something. I was not discouraged when my teacher offered pointers because her advice only motivated me to work harder on it. The excitement I had as a kid was finally back. I was finishing this painting faster than I ever expected. I painted many shades of yellow on the flower, but it did not bother me that it was not perfect. I knew I made some mistakes, yet I just worked to make it better. For the first time I was happy with the progress of my painting rather than frustrated for its imperfections.

When others see the painting hung in my room they assume it is a finished piece. In reality, school ended before I could finish. I never signed the painting in case I ever do want to change it. Regardless of the unfinished state of my painting, I wanted it on display because it’s a piece that I find beautiful. My self-esteem was almost gone but the painting brought it back to life. I finally remembered why I painted, why I wanted to learn, why I wanted to live. It was hard at first for me to say that I liked my own work, but soon I was showing everyone pictures of it. I was proud of something I did.

Paintings do not come in one step. They take a lot of time and patience to get them done. There will always be a mistake to correct because we can be our worst critics. Sometimes it takes something simple to remember that we do not need to be perfect. Competition to receive a fancy piece of paper and a few letters after our names has never been so high. Perfectionism can be a motivator to work hard. My parents assumed pressuring me to be number one would motivate me. Instead it only depressed me that I was not number one, since I assumed I became a disappointment. In reality I was only a disappointment when I stopped trying. It is okay to not be the best at everything as long as you continue try your best.
Being happy with where you are and motivated to improve is important. Just like the painting on my wall, I am a work in progress. The day I will be done is not definite nor does it matter. I have flaws and mistakes that have been covered by new layers of paint as well as some still showing through. I am working my hardest towards being someone who is as beautiful as the painting, not perfection.

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