Proudly Unfinished

Stroll with Nicole

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Nicole Law argues that we should shed our obsession with hiding our imperfect selves.

I recently attended a talk  by a local artist on her creative practice. She asked the audience a question: “Are you prepared to share your work in progress with the world?” 

As someone who has only recently re-started her creative engine, with a little help from Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and a lot of encouragement from close friends, I have always been faced with this indecision. 

Is the work I created ‘ready’ for viewing? Is there ever a point when a work is ‘completed’ and ‘final’? 

Most of my poetry writing involves a good start, a long pause and an indeterminate end. I have many drafts sitting in my computer, containing a few sentences of a poem that ‘had potential’. 

This made me pause at her question. Was I really ready to share my process, my work in progress, with others? 

Beyond the realm of artistic pursuits, we are hardwired to only offer the ‘perfect’ product for public consumption. Social media itself is built on a mechanism of affirmation and most of our feeds resemble a carefully curated garden, with stray weeds hastily removed – these might be an unflattering photo of us making a funny face, a poorly-worded caption or a bare-faced selfie. 

People construct their understanding of us based on the information they receive, and sometimes what they perceive is a shadow of the real depth we possess. 

In this pursuit of perfection, we have lost an appreciation of the ‘Work In Progress’. This refers not only to an unfinished poem, painting or song – it extends and extrapolates to our personal sense of self. 

Are we OK with showing up as we are or would we rather take a little longer to smooth down fly-aways and dab on a bit more concealer? 

To think that there is a final stage in this evolution of self is none too different from Waiting for Godot, à la Samuel Beckett. We are waiting for something to happen that probably never will. 

It is exhausting to maintain a facade and to live a life of pretense. 

The truth is, we are not static beings – we possess inherent dynamism. 

Think about it: our hearts are beating, blood is pumping, our lungs are expanding and contracting with each breath. We are physically and inherently on the move! 

Nothing about our human nature is cast in stone, we are always changing. Circumstances and experience shape us constantly and we learn from mistakes, we learn from pain – we grow! 

We are not finished artworks displayed in the local museum – we are living, breathing works of art adapting and thriving. 

We are a ‘Work In Progress’, and it’s scary – but sometimes all we need to do is just show up. The American singer Bruno Mars reminds us we are loved ‘just the way we are’ and I am confident that the right people will indeed love us, for who we are, in this present moment – the beautiful ‘Work in Progress’ that each one of us is. 

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