Sometimes, late at night, we reach a point where we start to criticize our own decisions. Some people are good at blocking these out and for quite a long time, so was I. Listening to music, watching videos, playing some instrument quietly so as not to wake my parents or even talking to people on my phone kept my creeping fears away, but subtly and without warning, my peace of mind has been invaded.
“My biggest fear is that I will try and not succeed” – Unknown
Recently, as some of my close friends may already know, I was accepted to the Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids. Now, I understand that art colleges generally have an almost comedic history of the “starving artist” and “art student working at Starbucks,” but this place feels different. It feels right.
See, I’ve never been good at math or science or athletics. The highlight of my athletic career was coming in first place in a 100 meter dash, because the starter counted wrong and I ran against nobody else. I barely passed advanced algebra. As for science, all I can say is I’m good at memorization. But when it comes to art, I’ve always been good, at least I thought so.
It’s not humble for myself or anyone to openly boast about their talents, but sometimes it really feels good to. We like to hear our name with awe behind it, like showing someone a painting you made or bringing home all A’s to your parents, but sometimes we forget to say our own name with awe. We forget what makes us special and this is what keeps me up at night.
As an artist, it’s hard to say you’re good when you see someone better and to be honest, sometimes seeing someone paint a masterpiece in half the time it takes me to make a sketch makes me feel like I’m wasting my time. But this is where I’m wrong. There are three things I tell myself to bring me back into reality; to stop myself from feeling disgusted with my use of time.
- These people are students, too. They learn every day. They make mistakes and they fix them in the same way that I do. If I want to get better, I have to make those mistakes too and learn to overcome them.
- These people are professionals with years of experience and often have a mentor, too. It’s easy to forget that at one point, they sucked at painting and drawing. Remember to look back at the past with the understanding that you are not the same person you were two months ago.
- Stop comparing your practice with their honor roll. The artists that work for big name clients or film studios and so on present only their best work and we forget to see their practice, too. Beautiful pieces aren’t just made spontaneously. They take time and patience, but the end result is always consistently spectacular
These things apply to whatever you do. Whether you’re a runner, a drummer, a chemist or artist. Accepting your abilities is the first step in becoming better; knowing your limits and then working hard every day so that you can eventually break them. Even if you’re not the best at what you do, take time to think about the hard work you’ve actually done. For all you know, there are people that look up to you.