The Fearful Artist

Fear seems to be a big part of why I don’t create. Over the years, my own fears have eroded my desire to create and to push on. It is a strange thing, to be so in love with your craft, but to be terrified of it once you are faced with it.

One afternoon I was sitting in Starbucks. My time there was one continuous sigh. I go here to get away, to find time to relax, to allow my brain a release and a chance to recharge. And yet, I find myself in a panic each time I visited. Thoughts such as Nows the time I must create. You don’t have much time. What do you want to do? No one will create you future but you blah blah blah. A phenomenal rainbow of thoughts, each color a different shade of fear and pressure. I don’t know how it happened, but in my adult years, I have totally lost the ability to relax and to allow my own self to drift through my work and what I do. My confidence was slowly stripped away by own own doing.

When you are sitting in a cafe, the last thing you want to be doing is thinking of this. Questioning yourself, who you are, your own competence and abilities. And yet without interruption, I have somehow made criticism my daily meditation.

I looked back at my accomplishments, and felt nothing. All that I felt was what I hadn’t done, and what I should do from now. I looked at my goals from this past year, and all had yet to be accomplished.

Why is this? Is it because my crushing pressure and high standards of myself were taking its toll on me? Was it because I was messaging my boyfriend too much? Was looking at too many images of artists who were doing better than me? Was it because I still didn’t have the equipment that I wanted and needed? Or could it be that I didn’t actually believe in my own abilities, and was just biding my time. Or, maybe this age of digital wasn’t actually for me, and my world and creativity had been stunted by the endless possibilities. They did say that more choice was worse than fewer choices, didn’t they?

I knew it was ridiculous. None of them made any sense when I thought it out. The pressure wasn’t real, I didn’t need to do anything I didn’t want to. I was free to create anything, or to create nothing. That’s the thing about art, it shouldn’t be rushed and it shouldn’t be forced, no more than you can make water run down a stream quicker. You can only remove the rocks.

As for my boyfriend. Yeah, probably. I tend to lose my own personal focus when I’m in a relationship. I can’t help but think of the fate of two lives than just my own. In a way, its my own creative project, thinking about what the future will be like and what we could and should do. It was also a slight addition. I find solace in having a partner, its fun, its always wonderful to have someone that cares about you, its just not healthy to be careless about it.

Images though..the vast endless array of impeccable artists with incredible lives. They all say its possible too—to be like them, to do what they do. And of course it is, there is always that sliver of possibility that says if you follow the blueprint perfectly, you could do it as well. But its ridiculous to say that to someone who has an opposite life in a completely different situation. It’s not fair, and it’s not reasonable. I always felt like they should put their focus on telling people that they shouldn’t aspire to be them. Different people need and want different things, instead of continually getting bombarded with propaganda that tells them what their lives should look like.

As for equipment….yeah maybe. That one could actually be possible to some degree. But it was still implausible as to why all my art suffered, and not just the side that required equipment.

One thing, I thought to myself, I was hardly ever creating. It was rare that I created, and it was rare that I made mistakes. I didn’t allow myself to. Something about it was too painful, coming short was painful.

But maybe, what if, it didn’t have to be? What if I didn’t even think about it, and allowed my body to go on auto pilot with the art, forcing the side of the critique out. So long, you have overstayed your welcome in the gallery. And just let me..be me.

Perhaps I was afraid to do things wrong. To share too much, to give too much away. To reveal pain and failure was to be one. Maybe though, just maybe, it wasn’t.

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