When I was in art school I spent a lot of time worrying. I worried about what people were going to think about my work, both other students and my professors. Obviously, I needed to care, I was paying a shitload of money for that education but what was more important to me was that I was going to be critqued in front of a class and everyone was going to get to tell me what they thought, good or bad. It was terrifying. I was constantly looking at what other people were doing, the work that they were creating and trying to figure out how I could be more like them. The result? Well, I didn't get very many good critiques. What I was putting out there wasn't authentic. It wasn't truly me and it showed. Essentially, I didn't believe in myself.
I didn't think I was good enough. I didn't believe that my ideas and my instincts were 'right'. But right according to who? Every once in a while I would let my guard down and I would just make something that felt right and these were of course the times when I experienced the best reactions but somehow, I still didn't catch on. I still kept listening to what was being said about other students work and what they liked about it. Some how I always failed to hear what they liked about mine. I wanted to be a good artist so desperately that I completely lost sight of myself and my artistic language and it really wasn't until my last two terms that I finally began to show my true self. I'm incredibly grateful that I had a couple of professors who understood what was happening and encouraged me to follow my instincts and to be who I really was. I am forever grateful for them and there are times when I am sitting working in my studio and I can still hear their voices and think about what they might say and how they would encourage me to keep going
It's very easy to look at someone else who is doing great work and feel less than worthy. I had a similar experience on my recent trip to Bucharest where I participated in the Autor 11 Contemporary Jewelry Fair. I was surrounded by amazingly talented artists and designers who were making things I would never even dream of. I was humbled yet inspired at the same time and had to remind myself that I too was chosen to be part of the group and that this must mean that I am doing something right. It has taken me a long time to realize it, I now understand that what I am doing right is being true to myself and to my ideas. I know that I still have a lot to learn and much growing to do but as long as I continue to speak in my true voice, then I am not wrong but I am right for me.
I am not going to lie and say that I don't still look at others work and think 'oh wow, they are so much better than me' because I do that all the time. And yes, sometimes I do get kind of bummed out about it and think that I will never be able to reach their same status or level of talent, but I try to see this as inspiration to try harder and be a better me, not be a better them. We all have something important to say and if we just try to be like everyone else, well then, its kind of already been said right?
So no matter what it is that you do, whether you are an artist or a doctor or a mother or father, believe in yourself and trust yourself.
Of course this post is as much a pep talk to myself as it is for anyone else. I need to encourage myself and gain my own trust constantly and with some big challenges, events and entry calls coming up, I am using this as a way to focus and trust my instincts.
What do you all think about this? Do you have an experience you would like to share? Or any favorite quotes or words of wisdom on the subject? Please share in the comments below!