When in doubt…
The monkeys in my head have been very active lately, making my self-doubt grow, telling me “I make crap and nobody’s interested, telling me I’m boring or ugly, telling me I’m too old for this and that… And look at those younger ones that are accomplished artists comparing to me. I even never had a proper exhibition in a “real” art gallery. That’s normal ’cause I don’t make real Art…So what am I making then, if it’s not real Art? Is it just a waste of time?” And it goes on and on like that and I’m looking for ways to make them shut up and make the doubt and shame go away!
Do you sometimes feel the same? How do you make those feelings go away?
The thing that definitely works best for me is to grab my sketchbook.
To have doubts and to feel uncertain of ourselves is nothing to be ashamed of. On the contrary, it’s totally human and healthy, although it can be paralyzing. We can never know how people will react to something we make, and for perfectionists we’ll never be good enough, so trying to please everybody will never work out.
My doubts are always in the back of my head, telling me I’m not good enough.” I have to do better, this won’t work out, nobody will find it interesting, you see, nobody gives comments, is somebody reading this sh*t anyway?…” despite of the fact I get some great e-mails from some of you sometimes that warm my heart 🙂
So, “Just be yourself”
What are your main doubts?
My main doubts are about my competences, about what I make and write and tell : is it “interesting enough”? I also doubt about the choices I make : won’t I regret this or that when I will be dying? Won’t I regret “later” not to have made any kids of my own? Won’t I regret “later” not to have spend more time making paintings and trying to be an accomplished artist? Am I spending enough time doing “things that matter” to make me a better human? I’m not “useful” enough !
What helps me is to see these doubts as something useful : it helps us to consider things with the eyes of someone else and to try to understand how others see life. It appears that a lot of succesful people are also full of doubts. When you’re doubting about yourself you listen better to critics to get better at what you’re doing. Doubtful people are also less arrogant and work harder to become succesful.
When in doubt, we are looking for our soul and developping our brain. We can’t do that when we’re too confident. We’re learning to look at the world from different angles. This helps when writing or when making other art. Certainty is a blindfold.
Dare to make choices
So doubt is a good thing, but don’t let it destroy what’s good in your life. I’ve let it sometimes rule my life too much and I’ve certainly let it dominate me when it shouldn’t have. When it gets counterproductive, let it go or life will happen without your participation. Don’t let uncertainty get chronic.
To get past uncertainty it helps to analyze the source and talk about it. Don’t let it stop you from living your life and make choices. Face it, even if it’s difficult
Don’t let self-doubt prevent you from showing up!
Doubting yourself in some degree is healthy to grow, but not if it’s stopping yourself from showing up and making your art. Then it’s the self-sabotage. The projects not shipped, the hugs not given, the art not made…
SO: show up, make your art and show it to me, to the world ! 🙂
The good thing about making art is that it empties your head and you’ll immediately feel much lighter and better.
Here’s a great Ted talk about the subject from the Canadian Blogger Elan Morgan.
Are you in doubt?
Oh dear! Now I have to make a comment so you don’t think I didn’t care to make a comment, but will my comment be worthy? Haha just joking! A good post indeed!
HAHAHA thank you very much Milly !
Thanks for sharing this and yes I feel sometimes the same and trying to find out how the feeling goes away again , I am in it precisely this moment , me too flee away into my sketchbooks and do some readings and hope to find a way out soon .
thank you Debora! Yes I find it tempting to just read, instead of actively drawing and painting. Reading and surfing on internet is more comfortable but less gratifying….
I have just looked at all of your posts, and I have to say, I love your blog! I follow you on Instagram, and I think your paintings are sublime. I started drawing when I found Danny Gregory’s “Everyday Matters”, and I started a project of drawing my dog every day. It was my “no excuses” project: she was always there, I didn’t have to go out, and I could see progress. I did it every day for almost 3 years, but then I got frustrated when my progress slacked off. I have drawn and painted other things, but that project was my joy. My sketchbooks have been idle lately, and now I know my skills are rusty. That keeps me from picking them up. I feel like I’ve wasted my creative muscle, but I know the only way to fix the problem is to start again. I love your accordion book of “Home”. Koosje did the same thing with the same lovely results (she too found herself in the middle of a creativity crossroads). Maybe this will work for me! Thanks for your inspiration and generosity of spirit. I’m glad I found your blog! Best wishes, Stacy
Thank you so much for your long comment! I loved to read your story and it warmed my ❤️ heart!
Please do pick up your drawing gear again and grab a sketchbook to train that muscle! I’m sure you won’t regret it !
I’d love to see your dog drawings . Do you have them online somewhere? When you see your progress slowing down next time: a change subject and drawing techniques work for me…
Barbara, thank you for your response! I have a secret pinterest board of my drawings, and I sent you an invitation. You can see I’ve drawn and painted other things, little odds and ends around my house. It’s been a while since I looked at that board, and it does inspire me to get back to it. Right now, what I remember most is how happy I am when I’m drawing. Sitting at my desk at work, I’d look forward to what I might do that evening, or be content with the work I did the night before. It was a good feeling. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement! Love, Stacy
I can really relate to the first paragraph above. I’m a novice with watercolors but I have the strong desire to learn. Just today I tried painting a beautiful scene with a riverbank and a large stream and those sentiments you expressed all come flooding to the surface! After a while of looking at it I decided I wouldn’t throw it away and instead changed it to look more surreal. While I love to see the photographic abilities of other artists I keep finding myself drawn to more of the impressionistic style paintings and wonder if I shouldn’t just try that instead.
YEEESSSsss just follow your feeling and paint like YOU feel like painting! WHat’s the use anyway of painting like a photograph… 🙂 (of course I also do admire the ability of some artists to be able to paint so much details… ;))
Painting impressionnistic style is more liberating if you feel like doing so. As long as you have fun 🙂