I’ve written about having self doubt before. It’s one of those things that never seems to disappear completely. For me, self-doubt is more a matter of degrees. There are some days in which it’s extremely low, and then there are other days in which I can feel it coming out of every pore of my body. When it gets to that point, it actually can make me physically sick.
One of the more annoying portions of this constant companion is that when it’s whispering away in the back of my head in low tones, I more or less block it out. I’ve become quite good at blocking it out over the years. But there’s a point in which the voice goes from something I can ignore, to something that is screaming at the top of it’s lungs into both ears 24/7. I’m not good at knowing when I’m getting close to the super-screamy self-doubt yet.
Everyone has self-doubt. I’m in no way special in having it. The part that gets a little complicated is when and how it’s related to my creation of artwork and the selling of my artwork. Creating art is my therapy. It keeps me intact, mentally and emotionally. It’s an expression of who and what I am. Self-doubt begins getting louder when the artwork I make as a means to keep myself intact mentally and emotionally doesn’t sell. Man! Talk about a vicious cycle!
I’m getting a better mental and emotional handle on how to deal with this strange arrangement as I grow older. But it doesn’t mean that I’ve figured it all out yet. Actually, I’m not sure that I will ever totally figure it out either. Perhaps that the whole point of self-doubt?
It’s no one’s job to purchase my artwork to prop-up my self-doubt. Most of the time, when my self-doubt is getting all screamy and annoying, I have to grab the loose end and start tugging, so it all unravels. I’m trying to find the root of what’s making the self-doubt loud and annoying inside my head. Fear and jealousy are usually the root cause. Fear that my artwork is bad un unsellable. And jealousy related to seeing other artists who work with similar techniques, materials and/or themes that are selling much more artwork in a week than I sell in a year.
For me, I have to make myself face these negative emotions so that I can move forward. The line “kiss my fear on the mouth” instantly pops to mind as I write this. (Henry Rollins lyrics have a way of attaching themselves to the inside of the brain) I must acknowledge my fears and jealousies, or else I will never be able to get past them. Or perhaps more realistically, how to put them down and not carry them so far.
When I’ve unraveled my self-doubt and found the reasons, then I need to actually do something about it. I need to be honest with myself about what I can do to ease my self-doubt. Some solutions are easier to accomplish than others too. Then there are others that can be addressed in the future. And the hardest ones there is no apparent solution for. Again, self-doubt never goes away completely.
The self-doubt that I’m experiencing in the present has to do with the fact that my work isn’t selling as well as I would like it to. For me, the knee-jerk mental and emotional reaction is that it’s because my artwork isn’t any good. If I thought that my artwork was total garbage, I wouldn’t be constantly showing pictures of it in online social media platforms. I love my artwork. It’s how I interpret the world around me. It’s a part of me.
And the previous sentence is more than likely one of the core reasons that I don’t sell a lot of my artwork. Not everyone likes me, so why would I even hope that everyone would like my artwork? Or, like it even enough to purchase it? (Insert eye roll here.)
In the same way that I have to acknowledge the roots of my self-doubt, I also need to acknowledge that there is only so much that I can personally do within my current living and working situation. This does not prevent me from planning for the future. And trying to figure out how I can accomplish some positive changes that will help ease my self-doubt.
This certainly is not a perfect system, but it works at least nine-eight percent of the time. That’s not too shabby. It should also be added that it’s taken me decades to be able to get to that point. Age and experience have a way of doing that to a person I suppose.
So, now what?
Well. As usual, I get back to work. Currently, I’m trying to get better at using GIMP. The hope being that I can create better advertisements for my artwork. It’s not huge, but it’s a change. And it’s helping me to move forward.
Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next Friday.