The Cost of Self-Scrutiny

 In Weekly Forum Discussion


I can’t stop scrutininzing my own work. I finish something and I see imperfections. I see how I need to work on my writing skills and my photography. This is actually the truth, but that doesn’t mean others find my work unpleasant. I only see the mistakes.

This is actually funny because I see beauty in most of other people’s work. That doesn’t mean that I cannot see a trace of something less than perfect, but the first thought that pops into my mind is: “what a raw piece of art” or “the imperfection makes it just right, hence perfect”. I notice someone’s professional style or humorous piece. I look at my stuff and say to myself that this isn’t a bad one, “not bad at all”. I wish I could think I took a killer shot or wrote an amazing story, but I struggle with this. I realize there are dangers in thinking you’re incredible every time you put something out and a flawed piece here and there is great motivation for an artist, but I could stand to give myself a few more pats.

I recognize I’m not a terrible writer or photographer, but let’s just say you won’t find me telling others that I took this amazing shot or wrote an epic story.

I still get sick to my stomach when I hit the Instagram button or post something on this forum.

I am working on a lot of projects right now and am even more likely to make mistakes so it drives me a little mad.

On the bright side I still do it and, if you know me, that’s something.


YES. Me too. The self-scrutiny seems to move around from place to place! Sometimes it’s in my writing, sometimes my beads, what I’m wearing, or even in my explanation of a Homeopathic concept.

Right now – you’ll laugh – it’s living in MY Instagram posts. Big limitation. My work has been on display at a very prestigious local fundraiser, and the only people who know are my parents.

I could have easily put myself on the map over the last few days and I didn’t! It’s so silly! I mean these things – esp IG – are so ephemeral. Well, even less than ephemeral.

I’M laughing now. Energies so easily come full circle:

At the end of high school, I entered a poem into the year book contest. That was the biggest and bravest I ever was sharing my creative work. I was the head of the school lit magazine. I was super visible. The content was of course not high school, and this was pre-spell check, pre-computers even! (I might puke)

Anyway, I printed it out neatly. I carved out every beautiful word with the gold cross pen my Nana had given me for Christmas. I read it several times, proudly to myself out loud. I put it into the official envelope. I handed it in.

Several weeks later it was returned. It was not chosen. I was so confused! Heartbroken. In the hallway later that week I ran into a beloved teacher, my first writing mentor. He asked of course. I told him. He nodded because he already knew. He had set me up so that he could say: the first rule of submissions is to understand your audience. Good one. He told me that it was beautiful, but just not right for a high school year book.

A few weeks after that, I told a friend the experience. Yes, the shock to her ha! She read the poem. There was a spelling mistake.

The pendant word of the piece was the word “ephemeral”. I had spelled it incorrectly.

I was mortified.

I love how things work. I NEVER EVER NOT A CHANCE use the word ephemeral. Such betrayal. You’ll notice in this response, that I did. It was natural and by accident, and reminded me of that experience all together. I’m not sure what you will see in that, except perhaps the truth of your own magnificence. Pick a word, any word, let it make you naked and the world is yours.

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