“Have you ever heard of the dot syndrome? Look at a newspaper photograph and notice that it’s made up of many dots of ink. Now focus on only one of those little dots. See how you miss the ‘big picture’? The dot syndrome is just like that. You make a little mistake and keep replaying it in your mind, crucifying yourself over and over for it. It’s a loss of perspective. Instead of looking at the big picture, you’re obsessed with one tiny dot. For the perfectionist, one thing gone wrong means everything’s going wrong” (Noland, 1999, p. 124)
When I create, my chord progressions must perfectly match with my ideas, my lyrics must be crisp and clever, and my riffs must be somewhat original. When I record, each piece must sound as I want it to sound, each instrument must be in tune, and each track must sound good with every other track. When I paint, my work must reflect the beauty that I imagine, each stroke must be considered, each shade chosen to blend with the next. This is how I see the dot syndrome in my life as an artist.
However, I’m afraid that it has outgrown artistry and has also taken over many other things in my life. It shows up when I am working on my homework assignments, gets cooked into my food, is overheard in the prayers that I pray out loud, and creeps into my relationships with people.
For example, when I was interning in New Orleans, I worked on a team. Most of the team was incredibly nice and accepting of me. They complimented my guitar playing. They affirmed the ministry that I was doing among the people who had lost their homes. They enjoyed spending time with me, and I enjoyed spending time with them. However, there were two girls who sometimes acted like I didn’t exist. This began a downward spiral of me not thinking that I was good enough to be on the team, that I was not a good enough Christian to even be there, that I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile, that I wasn’t worthwhile…all because these I thought these two girls were ignoring me. I began to think that everything was wrong. I couldn’t find anything positive about the situation that I was in – it was all negative.
Towards the end of my internship, I sat down with these two girls and told them what they were doing and how it made me feel. They didn’t realize that how they were treating me was hurting me. Things started to get better after that talk, but I learned something valuable from going through such pain. I needed to count my blessings.
So today, as I sit here and type, I am blessed to be drinking hot cocoa in a warm apartment while it is cold outside. I am blessed to be receiving a wonderful education and to have relationships with the people here. I am blessed to have roommates that put up with my quirkiness. And if I really think about it, I am blessed that God gave me a tongue to taste the hot chocolate, nerve endings that feel cold when it is cold and hot when it is hot, a mind full of analysis and creativity, and a heart that gives and receives love.
How has the Lord blessed you today?