The Art of Making Mistakes

Before my injury, I loved to create.

You could always find me scribbling away in a notebook, dreaming up a book idea, or doodling on a piece of paper.

After my injury, I barely had enough physical energy to do the everyday tasks of living.

I couldn’t tap into my creativity in the same ways. In fact, when I would sit down to try to color something, I couldn’t even stay in the lines at first! How discouraging.

To conserve my energy and to focus as much as I could on healing, I put aside creative endeavors for quite a while. Photography, blogging occasionally, knitting, and writing about my journey on Instagram were my biggest creative outlets.

Slowly, I’ve continued to heal, and I recently rediscovered drawing. It’s been SO GOOD. What a joy to rediscover a part of me that I thought would be lost forever! I was terrified I would never be able to return to my dearest loves and do them with the same degree of skill as I had once before.

I think part of why it’s taken me so long to bring this old love back into my life has been the perfectionism that surrounds it. Cue the nattering negative thoughts! Oh, I’m not the same as I used to be. I don’t want to mess up. It’s not going to be good enough. Even if those thoughts aren’t conscious, they’re a powerful undercurrent that influences my perceived ability to create.

It was really disturbing to go through such a profound loss of parts of myself that defined me, defined how I show up in the world. Plus I’m a creator, I need to create! For my own mental and emotional well being, I have to be making something, or I’m not really happy.

Managing my energy is tough at every level. Most days I want to do so much more than my body will let me do! But, I’m giving myself more and more permission to be okay with that. To create anyway, even if I don’t think it will turn out great. To create anyway, even if I am too tired. To create anyway, even if it gives me a headache.

I don’t need to be all better to make something. I don’t need to be great or even good at it. I am giving myself permission to make mistakes for possibly the first time in my life. To fail often and fail fast. If I don’t move through the failed attempts, I’ll never get to the successes.

The funny thing is, though, before my brain injury, I was terrified of failure.

I was terrified of not being good enough. I was terrified of my WORK not being good enough. I wanted to be a peak performer in any endeavor I tried. That anxious energy prevented me from creating, which is one of the great sorrows I have looking back. If I had not been wrapped up in so much uncertainty and distress, I could have been creating as much and even more than I wanted to.

This post is hope for the future, that I can continue learning and growing and making with joy! That I can overcome my anxiety around creating. I still panic sometimes when I post something on Instagram or publish a blog post, but I DO IT ANYWAY. When you’re afraid of making something, just make it. You have nothing to lose.

The Art of Striving is about the tricky business of trying to be the best we can be. But it’s also about art, and the joys of making, and I hope that we’ll all be able to continue to make, make, make to our heart’s content. Because, really, there’s nothing to fear!

Be sure to like The Art of Striving on Instagram for more posts about encouraging your creativity and overcoming your fears.

3 Replies to “The Art of Making Mistakes”

    1. I’m so glad this resonates! I really appreciate the feedback, Megan! I’m glad we’re in a similar creative space. Thank you for your post today. I love your writing and am so glad for your miracles.

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