I have a tendency to pick things apart.
As a photographer, this is can be a good quality: attention to detail means I can find a subject for a photo almost anywhere. It’s also useful for my job as a teacher, noticing student mood and behaviour, and for marking their work. This quality makes me a good decorator; my house echoes my personality.
In life, however, it can be a pain in the ass.
Because I notice things does not mean I am tolerant of them. Things irritate me when they shouldn’t. A tiny thread hanging off clothing? Needs to be clipped. A hangnail? Needs to be snipped. An out-of-place eyelash can bother me all day.
And so, last winter when I got a rather large tattoo purely out of boredom (I’d been browsing Pinterest absentmindedly one day, feeling like something was missing from my life. Surely, a tattoo would fill that space!), I immediately zoned in on the parts that weren’t perfect. And I could. not. let. it. go.
Most of the tattoo was beautiful, retro daisies backed by yoga-inspired patterns. I’d picked the pieces; the artist had compiled them in a unique and balanced way. But… As it healed, I noticed part of the flower of life pattern was unevenly shaded. And another section was not filled in the way it should have. I spent the entire summer imagining every person in line behind me at the grocery store was secretly criticizing my tattoo. When a few people commented on it, I figured it was because they hadn’t looked closely enough.
I tried to accept it the way it was. I really did. But I could not fight my hyper-focused overthinking. Eventually, I had some parts fixed, thinking finally I’d be happy with it. And I was, to some extent. Until I found new parts to pick apart.
This time, though, I had to let it go. There is only so much time and money I’m willing to invest in a tattoo. Plus, I realized something: I could choose to focus on those tiny sections that are less than perfect. Or I can choose to focus on the parts I love.
Kind of like life.