Challenge Yourself

There is a line in East of Eden that says, “And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” I interpret it differently than in the novel, and, lately, it’s been my motto. Perfect isn’t possible, but you don’t have to be perfect to get the job done.

I’ve been doing challenges to push myself out of my comfort zone and not worry about perfect, just being as good as I possibly can be. I’m always striving to be better, though, and that’s the idea behind these challenges.

The challenges I’ve committed to so far, which I’ve already mentioned in previous
blogs, are a 40-day blog challenge and a 30-day vegetarian challenge. I know, I’m getting a little crazy with the challenges, but they motivate me.  I like them. And I’m only picking challenges for areas of my life that matter to me.

I’m adding a new challenge to the mix. I’m adding a 52-day photography challenge that picks a technical, artistic, or storytelling aspect of photography each week and challenges you to use it. I have been working on learning editing skills for my photography so this is another area I can challenge my skills and improve.

I’ve been doing photography since I was about 9 years old. My parents bought me a little film camera, and I immediately became obsessed. I took pictures of everyone and everything, cutting off the tops of heads and parts of objects. I was horrible – and loved every second of it. I was determined to get better.

My photography improved, but I never learned editing. I just kept trying to make my pictures so good that editing wasn’t necessary. Some of my pictures work, but I have found that editing takes many of them to the next level. It’s a level that I don’t think you can achieve without the editing process.

This new challenge will also help me up the artistry and impact of my photos (I hope) and give me fresh angles. We all have a “style,” but we get stale. And, honestly, I think my photographs are mundane. Doing this challenge will give me new ways of approaching photos and, I hope, improve them.

The first challenge is the “rule of thirds” which every new photography learns right off the bat, but I’ve stopped actively thinking about it. It’s going to be interesting to see what I “see” as I consciously use it again. These are only exercises, strengthening my knowledge base to allow for more inspiration.

I am excited to see what happens with all of these challenges and will probably keep adding on as I go. All of them are designed to focus my attention on what I most want to improve on and am most passionate about. My very first challenge to myself, though, and the one the others hang on is to put myself out there, let myself be seen, flaws and all.

One of my friends recently published a book. Yet she had a bad writing day and posted on Facebook that she was throwing in the towel, quitting, tired of trying so hard. I was flummoxed. She literally has her first novel coming out on April 30. How could she feel this way?

I guess we all have those days where we don’t think we’re good enough.

Perfection is an impossible quest.

But improvement is something we should try to achieve daily, even if we fail or stumble or succeed along the way. We aren’t born knowing exactly how to do things, and wishing or dreaming doesn’t work either. The only way to improve is to try…and keep trying…and try some more.

After all, nobody will be able to do what you do quite the same way. You and me may not be perfect, but we are unique. Put yourself out there.

Now, tell, me, what are you doing to challenge yourself on a daily basis?


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