Dealing with Self-Doubt


As an artist, and in life, self-doubt is something I am more than familiar with. In previous careers I adopted a “fake-it- ‘til-you-make-it” approach, taking a deep breath and just going in regardless. It works but it’s stressful and, while it did get better, the long hoped for moment where everything would come naturally if I just did it for long enough never really came.

When Art first came to the forefront of my life, it was something that I did for joy. It was just for me. Of course, I could see the errors I was making and worked hard to hone my craft, but because it was only for me, it didn’t matter. When I went to Art School, the joy took a back seat. Suddenly I had to defend my work and my desire to make something that was often very different to what other students made. That old self-doubt started to raise its head again, but something happened that helped. I watched other artists.

Now, I’m a person who cannot listen to music while I type; I end up typing the lyrics to the song! Consequently, I had never put music on while I worked. By being around other artists, I found I can listen to music and paint. In fact, I now find it hard to paint without music! Why? Because painting uses a different part of the brain than writing, and music drowns out that little Jiminy Cricket of self-doubt that sits on my shoulder making mean comments while I work. My critical mind is soothed and distracted by the music and I can get “in to the zone”. I still had to deal with critique of course, but by then the work was done, and I had found the joy in making it. That was fine while I was working in the shadows…

So, what of my old friend self-doubt now? Here I am on the verge of stepping out of the shadows and in to a more public arena, and not just with my Art, but with my face, my voice, and my thoughts. Self-doubt lurks in the corner of the room. I know I’m not alone in this. Several of the Contributors to this blog asked me questions about whether they were “good enough” or “interesting enough”. Would people want to hear what they have to say? They were only featuring in their films. I’m going to be in every one!

Enter a new word in my creative vocabulary. TRUST. I trust in the expertise of the artists who are taking part in this. I know they are professional and discerning individuals, and they have put their faith in me. (Wow! That’s huge!) More than that I trust that my life journey has led me here and all my experiences are playing in to what is happening. I am no computer whizz kid. I have no doubt there are better ways to do some of the things I’m attempting to do. I’m basically fascinated by other artists and how they work, but I trust that I’m not the only one, and I trust my desire to continue to learn. The world, and the internet, can be mean, but I trust that there are many wonderful people in the world out there who are just as curious as me who will see the joy in this project, and the benefits to everyone of a collection of Artists who are brave enough to step forward and share their voices and their incredible insights with the world.

On the verge of the launch of this project, I absolutely have that old first day at a new school feeling. But I’m discovering that, a bit like learning to swim on your back for the first time, you just have to lay back and trust that the water will hold you up. I followed my instincts so far, I’ve put in the work, the Contributors have been amazing. Time to trust the process, the Contributors, myself, and you, the audience. Individually these things can be tough, but by holding space for each other, and by being supportive and listening with open minds and hearts, I really believe we can all raise each other up and leave that old self-doubt behind.

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