This week has been a challenging one for me. I am leading sessions more and more, getting to know clients, learning repertoire, and writing songs, and it can be a little overwhelming at times.
However, I am learning so much through these experiences. I am seeing areas where I am growing, and areas that still need a lot of work. It is good to know these qualities about myself, but, unfortunately, I tend to focus on the “negatives.”
The people close to me, as I do, consider me a “perfectionist.” Everything needs to be absolutely perfect. I tell myself that the music in sessions needs to be perfect, the songs I am writing need to be perfect, my social skills need to be perfect, I need to get an A on everything, etc. I am quickly learning that these thoughts are not actually helping me. In fact, these “perfectionist” tendencies are holding me back.
I have come to the realization that I keep focusing on where I need to be, instead of where I am at now. I thought that this was benefiting me, but in reality, it is not. I am not a professional yet. I don’t have to have all the answers (and never will, even when I am one of the professionals). I am still a student. I am still learning, and will continue to learn for the rest of my life. I need to take one day at a time and focus on the growth I am making day to day.
“Perfect is a nasty word.”
This is something one of my supervisors, Alisabeth, told me this week. She said that this is not a word we should say to our clients, and definitely not to ourselves. This puts a false expectation in our heads. In therapy, we should not strive for perfection, but improvement.
“You don’t have to be perfect. You just need to be effective.”
This is another thing I was told this week, and it has really stuck with me the past couple of days. A client isn’t going to care if you play the wrong chord or mix the words up. What matters is how you handle yourself when these things occur (because they will) and continuing to be effective in the therapeutic process.
As I am sitting here writing this blog, I have been contemplating these questions. Here are some questions for thought:
- What is “perfection”?
- Who decides what “perfection” is?
- Is “perfection” even achievable?
I know I am not the only one who struggles with perfectionism. This seems to occur in many music therapists as well as musicians in general, and likely every career imaginable. I am starting my journey in getting over this mindset. In a later blog, I hope to update you all on how I am getting over my “perfectionism.” In the meantime, I would love to hear from those of you who are also “perfectionists” and what has helped you get past this mindset!
Have a great weekend!