What’s stopping you? Do you feel like you’re standing on the wings of the stage, about to go on, yet you just can’t bring yourself to step out into the spotlight, in front of an audience that doesn’t know you? Do you feel like you’re adequately prepared for this moment?
Sometimes, people can get caught up in playing the part of an artist, as an understudy, but feel unready to show what they can already, really do, in front of other people. It’s called stage fright. People get it all the time. That fear is caused by being scared that your work will unmask you as a fraud. That would be a crushing blow. It would mean they were right. All those detractors, doubters and underminers. Everyone who ever rejected you, told you that you were weird, said you looked funny and made you feel wholly inadequate and foolish. All those that willed you to fail, instead of to succeed. It would mean that the thing you wanted to be the most, in life, is something that the rest of the world says, emphatically, that you are not.
When they told you that you were different and therefore unacceptable, was that the truth? Isn’t being different the goal? The alternative is to become invisible. Doesn’t unacceptable really mean outstanding?
Is what’s stopping you that you want so much to be an artist, that you can’t stand the thought of being shown up as a poor one?
If so much of your self-image is tied up in portraying yourself as an artist, it can get you into a state where you don’t want to put your artistry to the test. You don’t want the proof because you think you know what the proof will be. You may be wrong about that, but you don’t want to risk it.
Putting your cherished dream into the hands of ignorant, cruel, heartless people, who lack understanding and authenticity themselves, exacerbates the fear of humiliation. You’d have to rethink everything about yourself and your life, if they said you can’t be and are not the thing you really want to be.
Is that really what’s stopping you? Do you really need approval and encouragement to be who you are? How can they prevent you from being who you really are? How can you be something you’re not?
Are you afraid to invent yourself and reinvent yourself, over and over again and to do something nobody else has ever done, courageously? Is that what you’re afraid of?
Do you really only like pretending to be an artist, so that people treat you as one? Is that the extent of your commitment to your work and to your particular art? Rather shallow, isn’t it? Do you want the trappings and attitudes, without having to earn the respect?
Maybe you fear you really aren’t an artist after all. If you are one, there’s no choice in the matter. It’s what you are. You can deny it and try to suppress it, but it’s like a leopard trying to change his spots. Your creativity is an indelible marking. It will shine through all the cleverest of disguises.
However, if you constantly feel like there is more to do before you’re ready to exhibit your work, more to learn and more to perfect, then you’re setting too high a quality bar. You’re also working in a vacuum, without any external guidance to what’s working for you and what’s already good enough. That’s a bit like trying to paint in the dark.
The fact of the matter is that to be seen to be an artist, you just have to make your art. That’s what an artist is. An artist makes art. Anybody that does not make art is not, by definition, an artist. They’re something else; a fantasist, perhaps, or a dreamer. The essence of being recognised as an artist is living one’s life as an artist, making art fearlessly and showing it.
You haven’t got time, or energy, or space, or peace and quiet, or the right art supplies. Yeah, I know. Lots of people focus on what they haven’t got, ignoring what they have. What’s usually lacking is will and determination. Why? Fear is why. Fear that making your art will mean everything will change. Fear that others around you won’t like or accept the change. Fear that you might actually succeed and then what?
Sometimes the fear is that you will make your art and nothing will change.
Are you a be, or a wannabe? If you want to be an artist, do you want it enough?
Do you love the things you make or love making them? Or both? Or can’t you bear to part with the things you make? Does the fact that you learn to make better things, in the process of making them, mean anything to you?
Are you all about the potential, or the living proof?
Make your art and get it out there. It’s the only thing that will conquer your fear. Every other course of action just makes it worse.
Fearless, brave authenticity is where it is at. To accomplish that, please stop worrying about whether or not you will be seen to be an artist, or what other people think of you, the artist and of your artistry. Just be what you are. You can’t fear being who you are, can you? Live the life that you know you need to live.
What are you afraid of?