Lessons from Drawing a Shield

 I love to draw in my bullet journal - and I am by no means an artist. I started a bullet journal in which I draw and colour quotes, Bible verses, reminders, etc. I am not a talented doodler, nor can I write in fancy ways like others. But, I really enjoy keeping my bullet journal. It provides me with a creative outlet, and seeing the end product of each page is very satisfying. Furthermore, when I draw and colour in my journal, I feel calm. It is my time and space to 'be with myself'.

A while ago, I was trying to draw a shield to go with a Bible verse (Psalm 28:7)...and it turned out awful! It did not look like a nice depiction of shield. I was frustrated - the entire page looked so beautiful, except for that strange 'shield'. I had carefully written out the verse in beautiful handwriting, and the colours looked great. And yet, with that shield, I felt as though I ruined the page. I wanted to rip it out...but the back side of the page had another Bible verse that I enjoyed drawing. So, taking out the 'bad' page also meant taking out a 'good page'. (Note - the image below is NOT my bullet journal!)

I wrestled with what to do. I quickly shut the book, feeling angry and disappointed at my failure of a shield. I wrecked that page. I opened it again, and this time, thought about trying to 'fix' the shield. But the more I stared at it, the more I felt that I really hated what I had done. I shut the book again quickly, and tried to forget about it.

And I did. But a few weeks later, when I came back to open my bullet journal to draw a new page, I glanced at the Psalm 28:7 page. And staring at me was the shield which I had 'messed up'. Just like that, feelings of failure returned. I was disgusted with myself all over again.

'How could I have ruined this? Now this page looks bad, and the other side - which looks so nice - is ruined, too. In fact, the whole book is ruined because of this ugly shield'.

Sigh. Isn't it funny how that spiralled so quickly? I made a silly mistake - if you even want to call it a mistake! Let's examine the issues with this situation.

1) I am doing my bullet journal for fun. There are no 'mistakes' in fun. It is a space for creativity for me. What is the big deal if I don't draw a perfect shield? I'm not even an artist!

2) A not-so-perfect shield does not ruin the whole page, or another page...let alone the whole bullet journal! That amplified itself rather quickly, don't you think? How is that I saw a flawed shield as ruining the whole journal?! 

3) I called myself a failure for drawing a not-so-pretty shield I. Wow. Read that over again. My bullet journal is what I do for fun...and by making a 'mistake' on my shield, I labelled myself as a FAILURE?! What a strong word for such a silly little occurrence!

This is a perfect example of how a) we can be too hard on ourselves; b) we amplify situations and allow our thoughts to push things out of perspective; and c) we need to be okay with things not being 'perfect'.

YES, my shield was not beautiful. Actually, it looks quite funny now that I look at it! But in a better space of mind, I see it as my first attempt to ever draw a shield. And I am proud of myself for trying to draw it! I am also proud of my bullet journal as a whole, because it allows me to explore art in a way I never did before.

YES, the page as a whole does look kind of quirky with my random and ill-drawn shield. But, the Bible verse handwriting and colouring looks fabulous! Just like life, my page is full of a variety of things - some turned out the way I wanted them to, and some did not. But put together, they make my story - and if I accept the good, I must also accept the imperfections.

YES, I am not the best artist out there. But I am by no means a failure. I am creative for keeping a bullet journal. I am courageous and adventurous for allowing myself to explore new hobbies. I am confident because I can accept my flaws (i.e I now know shields are NOT my best artwork!) and also take pride in my strengths (i.e. creating colourful calligraphy pages). I can look at the events in my life (or pages in my bullet journal!) and recognize that some are beautifully done, some are imperfect, and some are completely random. But they are all part of my journal, they are all parts of my story.

I hope this small lesson from my bullet journal resonates with you. I am sure, in each of our lives, we have come across similar 'shield-doodling' situations. You know - the situations where you don't perform as well as you wanted, and you became dejected, sad, frustrated, and slightly too mean to yourself.

Remember that this situation does not make you a failure. And you don't need to rush to erase that mistake or that 'less than optimal' performance. If you can fix it, great! If you can't, let it be. Learn from it. Strive to learn how to be better (I am currently working on learning how to doodle!). Embrace the imperfect shield doodles in your life, knowing that you are a human being and have your strengths and your weaknesses.

What shield-doodles have you encountered? How can you accept the flaws in yourself and in your life, learning to see that these pieces are what make you, YOU, a unique human being with quirks and talents, stains and sparkles?

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