Artistic creativity not easy for perfectionists

By Kendra Johnson, Arts Editor

I’m a perfectionist. …No, really.

Now, I know what you’re probably thinking. “Everybody says that because it sounds good and responsible and all that.” But I’m totally serious.

Way too serious, in fact.

I’m the 12-year-old kid who had to be dragged away from the piano because otherwise, I would keep practicing the same exact song for twenty minutes longer than I was supposed to because “I just need to get that one measure right.”

It happened so often that my siblings would actually beg me to stop.

I spent hours at the local park’s terribly run-down soccer field while my sibling drilled me on goalkeeping skills, practicing three or four nights a week, for two whole summers.

Never mind that the team I played for was a recreational team that formally practiced a total of once a week. It didn’t matter to me how I compared to the team’s standards; it mattered how I compared to myself. In my own eyes, if I wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t good enough.

When it came to starting college, things weren’t much different.

I listened on the first day of freshman year as my professors told their students over and over again the importance of trying your best, giving it your all. “You’re paying for this education, so make it count,” they said.

So, I did. I gave it my all.

I still have 13 separate word documents saved on my computer from the first college research paper I wrote; all of them are different versions or portions of only one assignment.

Anytime I had the chance I took the paper I was working on and talked it over with someone else, just like they had us do in my Honors Critical Skills class.

(I still do that now. This column was read by three other people before it was submitted.)

I proofread my first Civ daily reading response sheets. Twice.

I carefully labored over every single word of every reading assignment during that Civ semester, because “SparkNotes just can’t equal the educational value of reading it yourself.”

When I asked about an advising meeting to prepare for Spring 2019, my advisor burst into laughter, then promptly apologized. Maybe the fact that I was asking about advising in September had something to do with why?

So… yeah. All that to say: I’m a perfectionist.

But then things changed in college.

I’m a theatre major and that has gradually started to shift the way I look at things. I’ve loosened up (a little).

This is not to slag theatre students, or say that I don’t care about the quality of the stuff I do. Of course, I do and I should.

But that’s beside the point.

Theatre is a creative field, and that means coming up with creative solutions which means – deep breath – being able and willing to frequently mess up big time, in order to succeed once.

Publicly messing up does not come naturally to everyone, definitely not to me.

Throwing away six drafts of a paper? Yes, I’m used to that. Yet the only one who sees those drafts are me and maybe a peer reviewer. Make a less than stellar move in rehearsal or performance and everyone in the room knows. That’s nerve-wracking.

But as I’ve advanced in my classes, I’ve figured out that the only way to get it right is to repeatedly risk getting it wrong.

Having a bunch of great people around you supporting you through the risk is key. Yet, so is being willing to look silly in order to communicate something that matters and do something you love.

So, through my classes, I’ve learned some things. Or, rather, three things.

1). Perfection is impossible (at least without some major deus ex machina type God-intervention, anyway).

2). You will drive yourself crazy if you try to force perfection.

3). Sometimes broken, messed up messes are the most beautiful moments of your life.

Not everything is serious. Not everything has to be perfect. The little things that seem to matter so much right now and look so ugly are really so very, very small in the scheme of life.

I’m going to fail an exam, and so are you. That’s part of being human. But the story doesn’t end there. We learn by making mistakes. It’s part of life and, even better, we worship a God who can do incredible things with total screw-ups.

So instead of fighting it, enjoy the process. Make that huge ridiculous choice in rehearsal. That choice you’re so nervous to make – it could end up being the best choice you can imagine. So cut yourself some slack.

Don’t just take care of making yourself perfect; take care of yourself for your own sake. Take a nap. Give yourself the time for a heart to heart with a friend.

Your grades matter; your responsibilities matter; but so do you. You matter to the God who made you and He does not make mistakes. Rather, He plants seeds and lets them grow.

Although I have to admit, sometimes I just wish those seeds would hurry up, skip the growing pains and turn into a flower.

Faculty discusses the significance of practicing rest in daily devotion

By Jessa Chadwick, Faith Editor

It is too easy to become worn out. Between school, work, friends, extracurricular activities and church, all of which expect full participation and excellence, young adults quickly become exhausted.
“Rest clears you mentally,” assistant professor of nursing and MSN RN Jennifer Sharma said. “It helps increase your mental capacity. It allows your body’s systems to come back to a state of balance, a state of norm. When you think of blood pressure and heart rate, those things all come to their baseline when our bodies are in a state of rest. The biggest illustration is the mental picture of how it calms our brains and our thoughts and allows a time for refreshment and a time for regeneration during that time of rest.”
Assistant vice president for spiritual life and dean of the chapel M. Dale Griffin explained the spiritual principle of rest.
“In God’s economy for creation there is rest,” Griffin said. “He dreamed up this whole idea of rest. We didn’t. He created time but we can keep track of it, we can manage it. Like money, we have to be a steward of our time. In that creation of time, He emphasized rest. The earth is spinning in such a way that we have a night and we have a day.”
However, in Christian circles hard work, not rest is greatly encouraged and preached on. Involvement in church activities is important but not to the point of exhaustion for the member.
“We like to preach this, ‘be awake, be aware of your time,’” Griffin said. “In Proverbs, it talks about folding of the hands leads to poverty. On the other hand, Psalm 46:10 says to, ‘be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.’ We don’t have a full picture of that verse if we stop halfway through. If we quote Psalm 46:10a and we don’t quote Psalm 46:10b, then we don’t understand what He’s talking about. We’re proof-texting even within the verse.
“We still can’t cause God to be glorified in all the earth,” Griffin said. “He’s God. He will be glorified in all the earth. No one’s going to stop that. We can be still and know that He is God. What I’m suggesting is that Scripture teaches that you can rest even when you’re working because it’s not all on your shoulders. So, yes, we’re to steward our time but we’re to work as believers from a position of rest.”
So, how can young adults be aware of this need for rest? How can they be sure to stop and rest in God?
“When I feel uneasy and I’m anxious and uptight, then that’s a red flag for me,” Griffin said. “That’s a marker that I’m not trusting the Lord, I’m actually trusting myself. What I have to do is stop. Philippians 4:4-7, ‘Be anxious for nothing but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let the peace of God which surpasses understanding will keep your heart and your mind in Christ Jesus.’ Again, it’s this picture of rest. He’s keeping, He’s holding you, He’s sustaining you. Brennan Manning suggests to inhale the name of the father by saying ‘Abba’ and then exhale by saying ‘I belong to you.’”
When God’s people feel anxious, they should stop and rest. It is when they rest that they can find strength in God. Isaiah 40:31 says, “those who wait for the Lord will renew their strength.”
“There’s a principle of rest that’s in the Bible,” Griffin said. “And it’s written into general revelation; your doctors tell you, you need seven to eight hours of sleep every night. You need to go to bed at the same time, get up at the same time because you’re going to perform better when you sleep.
Specific revelation is where God commands us to rest every week. So not only do we sleep every night but we are to rest every week. And then there are to be little seasons of rest every year where we focus on Him. That’s where we get our Judeo-Christian holidays from. That’s why in the western world we have those.”
Another important aspect of rest is physical rest.
“Rest is when we’re not doing,” said Sharma. “When we’re stilling ourselves long enough to not be busy doing studying, visiting, out and about doing things, when we have a moment to still ourselves, re-center and refresh ourselves.”
While it may be hard to find or make time to rest, lack of rest has consequences. When a young adult finds themselves exhausted, stressed, defensive or burnt out, it is a sign that they need to stop and spend time refocusing.
“With lack of rest there’s usually a lack of focus,” Sharma said. “Anxiety goes up. Depression goes up. The ability to handle normal situations goes to it’s all-time craziness. Normal things that happen when you haven’t had rest would cause you to react very out of the norm to those, very over the top to those. First thing that comes to mind is finals week, when we should be resting and studying but a lot of times we do everything but rest and we’re studying and we’re cramming and everything. And then our performance on the test is going to be really out of sync because we haven’t had a chance to come back to a base, back to a norm and regenerate and allow our brains time to think normally instead of in a stressed, anxiety-filled manner.”
It is important to realize how rest plays a role in day-to-day life but finding time to rest may cause more stress. Sharma encourages young adults to find the time anyway.
“Sometimes we have to put rest on our schedule,” Sharma said.
“Making time for rest, when we’re not committed to doing anything but just letting our bodies have a time to bounce back. Especially in college when there are so many activities and so many things that we’re committed to. Allow yourself even 15 minutes a day to refresh, renew, regenerate. It does amazing things for your health and it does amazing things for your mental health and clarity, and the ability to make the other commitments that you have.”


SGA hosts third Let’s Talk event

By Chelsea Weeks, News Editor    (Photo by Jonathan Soder/The Bison)

Anxiety for an upcoming test, an awkward eating schedule, or depression over a relationship are common issues many college students face.

However, these issues also impact a student’s overall mental health.

OBU students gathered Tuesday, March 13, at 3:30 to discuss the topic of mental health. Throughout the night, students were able to ask questions to a board of panelists who spoke from their areas of expertise.

Panelists included Dr. Paul Donnelly, assistant professor of criminal justice, Dr. Tara Signs, director of Marriage and Family Therapy Clinical, Dr. Christopher McMillion, assistant professor of political science, Dr. Robin Brothers, assistant professor of nursing, and Mr. Mason Phillips, an adjunct professor and OBU alumni.

“Let’s Talk at OBU should serve as a model for our country in how to have these conversations,” president of SGA Hunter Doucette said. “I find one of the hardest things to do, is to make others care about something that doesn’t directly touch them. Let’s Talk opens the eyes of students in many regards, to issues that they may never have been familiar with. Let’s Talk has the potential to create advocates.”

Mental health covers the emotional, psychological and social aspects of life. How one feels, thinks, acts and responds to stress, all relate to mental health. A variety of factors can contribute to the state of someone’s mental health, whether it’s brain chemistry, life experiences or family history.

“I think if we can begin to talk and understand it, people can make informed decisions about things they do in their life and how they respond to the stressors of life, I think everyone’s better served,” Donnelly said.

“As Christians, I don’t think we recognize, and are sensitive enough, to what goes on on campus. There are kids who are really struggling to a variety of issues. If we can talk about it and not make it a taboo subject, in that it’s okay to admit that you have a problem, that you have an issue and know where you can get help.”

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their life.

Mental health has always been looked down upon throughout American history and has had a negative stigma attached to it.

“I’ve seen over the years how mental health has been increasingly criminalized,” Donnelly said. “For example, the largest mental health facility in the state of Texas is the Harris County Jail. In other words, there are more people receiving mental health treatment in jail than in any place else in the entire state,” he said.

“My direct experience is seeing the criminalization of mental health. My concern, however, has grown because of experiences with family and friends who’ve wrestled with some serious mental health issues and how that impacts on families and their life [structure].”

OBU’s Student Government Association started the Let’s Talk sessions last semester and hopes to have another one before the spring semester is over. The hope is to not only discuss more issues in the future, but revisit some covered in the past.

“It is important for student government to sponsor these events because we represent a diverse population and the issues we discuss affect particular groups differently,” Doucette said. “Therefore, it is vital firstly, for the sake of community at OBU, to understand how these sensitive subjects are viewed through various lenses,” he said.

“Secondly, it provides students with the necessary knowledge to engage in public discourse and effectively communicate with those outside of OBU. Christians need to be on the frontlines seeking justice. These events better equip students to do just that.”

Donnelly said he enjoys the Let’s Talk sessions because he sees the power behind students who are becoming not only educated on these sensitive issues, but also are motivated to take action.

“The greatest impact I’ve seen as a result of Let’s Talk is OBU students being able to have civil discourse on issues that usually divide our nation,” Doucette said.

“Students are more prone to listen to one another and by doing that, are able to see that there is much more in common than what separates. These conversations do not end once students walk out the door. Issues are being discussed in the dorms, in the GC, in the caf, in the classroom.”

OBU offers free therapy sessions to all OBU students, staff and faculty. The OBU Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic is located on the first floor of Shawnee Hall. They are open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.