Wednesday, February 15, 2012
I'm sure you're quite aware that I speak not of the alien spaceship, but of the ever troublesome Unfinished Object. Recently, The Sew Weekly did a UFO challenge, and, inspired, I dusted off one of my own UFOs to complete. I have to acknowledge that I have quite a few of these, and so I began thinking about the psychology behind all those unfinished projects.
Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, captures the guilt associated with confronting UFOs, in a 2010 article for Psychology Today. She says that "the thought “I should finish that…why haven’t I finished that?” makes [her] flinch". I have to agree, when I come across my little unfinished gems hidden in my fabric stashes, the feeling that I most often become aware of is guilt. The wastefulness of having cut into perfectly good fabric, but not completing the garment, seems almost sinful.
One theory about UFOs comes from the world of ADD literature, where it seems to be assumed that a body simply becomes distracted by other brighter and shinier projects. In other words, once the excitement of the initial phase of the project has worn off, the sewist just moves on to something else. While that may be the case for some people, I think my own answer lies elsewhere.
I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. "Researchers have identified six major dimensions of perfectionism—extreme concern over making mistakes, high personal standards, the perception of high parental expectations and criticism, doubting the quality of one’s actions, and preference for order and organization". This describes me to a "T". I often fear that my work will be judged lacking if it is not absolutely perfect. Hence, most of my UFOs tend to be garments that challenge me, or require some skill or technique I've not yet perfected.
My plan for reducing my UFO guilt is to commit to pulling out these projects and completing them, or salvaging what I can, and moving on. My plan is to do one of these in between each new project taken on. I'm sure I'll learn some good skills along the way, and hopefully gain confidence as well. Perfection, after all, is an illusion that is not realistically attainable. And, I plan to bring you along for the ride to keep me motivated to follow through. Thanks, in advance, for your support. Tomorrow, the first of the UFOs!