Forgiving Your Creative Self
In her book You Are A Badass, Jen Sincero describes ways "to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life." I know, I know. It's super cliche right? She admits it too. But after a while, it gets less annoying.
One chapter that really matters is "Forgive or Fester." The idea is that as humans, we're pretty reluctant to experiencing pain, like when we avoid catching on fire. Except occasionally, that fire might be an emotional rage, and we watch it burn anyway. She explains that when holding onto resentments, "we pick at the emotional scabs and refuse to let the healing happen." I've personally found this sentiment to be true, and certainly when pursuing creative endeavors.
Like-mindedly, Julia Cameron describes what she calls the "Artist Child", referring to the early days of creation that aren't easy or pretty. In The Artist's Way she writes, "baby steps will follow and there will be falls," and I think the same goes for tantrums.
So now we've acknowledged this internal kid that likes fire and has a temper. How can we channel that energy to serve, instead of hurt us?
Beginning to consider yourself an artist (or even a creative person) is a really self-promotey and vulnerable concept. Maybe you have experienced this in other moments throughout your life: being interviewed, giving a presentation, picking the restaurant for a group of five. If you could relive any position where you've put yourself on display for others, emphasizing certain parts for them to focus on, and then hope you get all the lines right, it probably doesn't feel great. Thoughts like, "why bother, I suck. No one will even like this painting!!1!" could sound familiar.
But at this point, you've already identified those voices as the silly child that doesn't know any better. Of course they want to light shit up and get angry when they can't, you do too!
If you're learning a new instrument, medium, or trying to get out of an artistic funk, you'll likely point out all the things you're not doing right before you keep doing it wrong with the band aid on. Introduce the idea of "forgiving" the Artist Child for having the tantrum in the first place, and it's easy to view those thoughts as an earlier version of you. You might also realize that:
It's okay to suck.
Being bad at something means that there's a pretty good chance you'll get better at it, should you stick with it.
Allowing ourselves to be unsure (read: curious) grants us the opportunity to explore our creativity without judgement.
We begin to view our creative selves as a process, as another part of growing up, and not as the end result.
What are some things you're trying not to suck at?