This week has definitely been one of highs and lows, where the lows seem to be winning more than I'd probably like. I'm not sure what the word is, but it must be something about how good it can feel to be hit down, as the only way is up. I often find that loss is followed by revelation and a significant influx of inspiration, so maybe that's a good thing?
Going to side-track a little here to give thanks to those people in life that drop small morsels of encouragement at unexpected moments. A good friend of mine sent me a message out of the blue, saying that I should try painting something in a particular theme. We'd been talking about music and other related things, so there was some context, but it meant a lot that my friend related our conversation to me creating something within that theme.
It may not seem like much, because these things are often subtle and elegantly spontaneous, but it's the first time in a long time that anyone has actively encouraged me to create some art. Of course there are plenty of people around me who are supportive, but it's more of a "what are you up to?" … "oh that's cool" kind of support. To have someone exclaim out of the blue that they think you should actively do something in the way you'd like, is something else.
Anyway, that's kind of beside the point, but I've been thinking about it a bit as it stuck with me for a few days and really helped to refuel the tank.
I was feeling pretty empty earlier in the week, as I found myself in the midst of a funk. It comes and goes every now and then, so it's nothing to be too bothered by and I usually accept the hollows and wait it out. The whole experience sucks though; it's like being stuck in a creative limbo I guess. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to look back on… no direction.
Part of me realised that it's no good having one foot in and the other hanging around on the periphery in case something goes balls up and needs a life raft. It's hard to cast off with a tether stuck to the shore, so it dawned on me to unravel the knots and create some space.
There's no easy way to write about this, so I'll just get clumsy with words and say that I realised this week how much I'm held back by my own lack of self-esteem. For the longest time I've been concerned with being a good person and trying my best to be happy with who I am. Although I have a long way to go and a lot to learn, I'm at a point in life where I'm pretty happy with who I am an at peace with myself on a personal level.
It surprised me a little then, to realise that I hadn't ever really worked on being happy with the work that I produce. Fact is that creatively and professionally, I've always thought of myself as pretty crap at everything I want to do. I'm not fishing for compliments as this is basically an internal dialogue; I just had a moment of inspiration that made me recognise the fact that I think I'm terrible at everything I enjoy doing.
I can't escape the need to clarify that I know I'm not brilliant and I don't expect to be the best, so I'm not being too hard on myself, or feeling sorry for myself. I get a lot of joy out of drawing and creating the things I create, and there have been plenty of examples of when other people have been happy with my work enough to pay for it. I'm not disregarding any of that; I just don't understand how that could possibly happen. On one hand I know I'm a hard worker when I believe in what I'm doing, so perhaps it's from sheer effort that the result is found. I hope not, because that would mean there really isn't any hope.
To cut a long story short, I went to the art store the other day and bought some paint and canvas for a job that I'm working on. I realised that I haven't actually painted anything for a long time because I'm actually terrified that I'm terrible. Perhaps I'm at a point in life where if I spend time on something I need to be able to stand behind it and say "I did that" with confidence, but I'm not sure I can make that happen. While I get a lot of joy from making things and drawing pretty pictures, it's often a solitary undertaking with little to no feedback sought or given. On the rare occasion that I put myself "out there" the silence is deafening and encouragement lacking.
Even this needs to be clarified in my mind, because I don't hold any gripes against anyone for not recognising anything I've done. In fact, I'm pretty pleased when nobody really makes a fuss, but there are times when it can be a bit of a let-down.
The most out of my comfort zone I can ever be is when I have to show other people something I've created. It's either deeply personal and intimate to me, so any disregard feels like a commentary on how little there is to value in my heart. Or it's not an honest piece because I held back in an attempt to avoid the first scenario. It's easy to point out the irrationality of thinking like this, but that's all intellectual. It's the emotional tank that needs a refuel every now and then.
With that in mind, I found myself thinking about how I view my own ability and validity. Occasionally that tight feeling in the chest comes along to remind me how frightening the whole thing is, but sometimes I have to put all my energy into avoiding a flight. I can rationalise about subjectivity and how persistence is the greatest antidote to failure, but really who cares? What's more important is trying not to let that annoying internal monologue get out of control and start writing the script for a personal downfall.
Maybe that's just the way it goes for a certain type of artist in the world. It's certainly not unheard of for a creative to be self-loathing and anti-social. Some people even use it as a crutch to prove how artistic they can be, but as with most of these things the reality isn't enjoyable and it's always preferable to be rid of it.
I'm really trying to be comfortable with being a bit crap and I'm learning how to fill my own tank without needing any external stimulus. It's not easy at times, but it's either that or disappear forever, and I'm not ready for oblivion just yet. This is all a bit too emo.
(by the way all the doodles in this post are old doodles… too stuck in my head right now for anything new)