Self doubt will swallow you up

words

 

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

Sylvia Plath

It’s strange, I was talking to someone about my work recently, and what part it plays in my life, and how I feel about it etcetera – ye, pretty big questions I guess. And they asked me if I sometimes doubt my abilities. My first thought was, no, I am pretty confident after having so many people believe in, buy, commission and compliment my work… but then I thought about it a bit more, and yep, there is a shed load of doubt there. And like most of my emotions/ complex issues, it is not very far below the surface. To say I have ‘thin skin’ would be an understatement, although I like to think I hide it well most of the time… I’m sure those closest to me have never been fooled on that front. So whenever things with my work aren’t going exceedingly swimmingly, say a commission doesn’t materialise, or a commission does not go well, / is entirely rejected, or when I create something that doesn’t work, that I hate,… or when I decide to procrastinate by seeing what some of my favourite, and extremely successful artists/ illustrators have been up to of late and compare myself and my lack of comparable achievements, it sucks. (and here is a post about why you should not compare yourself). Some of these times I let self doubt engulf me and take over, I doubt everything and question everything and overthink everything and sometimes this can result in not doing anything. It is a slippery slope and leads to a big black hole and you have to reach out and lift yourself up before you go down too far.

So don’t do it, don’t let the doubt seep in. It will not serve you. This definitely takes practice, to make the choice, the decision to seek the light and not the dark, but keep practicing and it will slowly get ever so slightly easier. The plus side is I actually think I am getting a whole lot better at putting these things aside, yes, I mourn them for a bit,  I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if I didn’t let it affect me at all, because I couldn’t do what I do if I didn’t care about it all immensely. But I try to take a step back and be rational about it. Which also takes practice.

“Self-doubt does more to sabotage individual potential than all external limitations put together” – Brian Tracy

If you are in the creative industry, and no doubt many other industries, and if you work for yourself, you absolutely have to keep going. You cannot let it burn you down, because if you let it, it will. You have to get back up and use it. In a way, I think these times are actually necessary, otherwise maybe I would become too complacent with my work, I would sit too comfortably and not have the same fuel to prove other people, or perhaps more importantly, prove myself, wrong. To aim even higher, push even further than I have before. So that is my next tip, USE IT ALL. Use everything, all the emotions, the anger, the doubt, the frustration, the confusion, use it. I feel so fortunate to have an outlet to do so. Even writing about it right now helps. Especially because I know that I am not alone in feeling like this. Far from it.

I really feel like in this day and age there are so many things we have to deal with/ think about/ consider/ decide on (*yawn*). Things which, I can’t help but think that artists 100 years ago did not have to consider. Not that I long to have been an artist back then, as of course they had a whole other set of issues which perhaps we do not have now. But still, it is interesting to think about how much has changed, and perhaps to use that to figure out what is really worth doing, and what it is you actually want to do. Is it worth the heart ache? Or have you been sidelined again onto a tangent that isn’t even the path you wanted to go down?  Overall, I am using all this as a positive thing, these feelings, as well as many others, have always been useful for me to use, to push me to create something even better than before, to never get too comfortable, and to always try and work outside of my own boundaries, my comfort zone. Otherwise we will stand still. And in a world that moves so unbelievably fast, you cannot stand still, you have to swim, otherwise you may just drown in it all.

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” – Kurt Vonnegut

 

Conversely, even though doubt is not a useful thing to have when you are trying to be bold and make things happen, there is also a humbling element to it. Which reminds me of a lovely phrase one of my favourite yoga teachers (Laura, that’s you!) used to say which went something like this,

“Be humble enough to know that you are not better than anyone else, but wise enough to know that you are very, very, special”.

We are all so fragile, but that is part of what makes us beautiful, and capable of creating wondrous moments and creations. It will always be hard to reveal your soul, to expose your feelings in words, a song or a painting, but it is what helps us stay connected, and we need that now more than ever.

“life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one” – Stella Adler

Thanks again for reading,

if you liked this post you may also like this one,  or this one

Holly x

twitter: @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com

Go Your Own Way.

 

img_3779‘Soar’

 

“Life is painful. It has thorns like the stem of a rose. Culture and art are the roses that bloom on the stem. The flower is yourself, your humanity. Art is the liberation of the humanity inside yourself” – Daisaku Ikeda

Things have happened in the political world this year that have genuinely shocked me. And no doubt plenty others. I don’t think anyone could have even predicted this even 10 years ago. They would probably think it was a joke. Because that’s what this started as, a big joke, and now it is real, it is so real. I think that’s why I am actually still feeling quite detached from it all, because it is hard to believe that it is actually real. Maybe if I lived in America it would be feeling a whole lot more real right now. But thankfully, I don’t. But even so, this is going to have an impact on me, on the UK, on the entire world. To me, this is what is so baffling about all of this. The entire world IS connected, in more ways that just economically. And yet, this mass wave of building boundaries, barriers, and borders is taking over. This hatred against other humans, this anger, it is breeding. We should be building bridges, not barriers, that is my intuitive feeling, that is what is in my heart, and also in my head. To me, that is logical. Again, there is so much I could go into on this topic. But I typed the title before I started writing this, because I want it to be about that, and not some long negative rant about what is wrong with the world. Instead, I want to talk about what I think is the only way to move on from here.

I am sure there are countless people I could quote here, on the value of keeping going, on the value of art, and of hope. But for now, here are a few to get the point going –

“The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope” – Barack Obama

“This is precisely the time when artists go to work. There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity, no need for silence, no room for fear. We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilisations heal.” – Toni Morrison

The title of this post, and in fact the whole idea I am attempting to explain, came to me when I was in the car this morning and listening to the song with the same title, loud. And it felt good, and it reminded me of a few things. With so many things in life, you can choose how you view them, you can choose your reaction to them, you can choose what you do about it and how you move forward. Some of which may take practice and working through negative habits, and tricks that your mind may play on you. But it is a choice. If you are feeling sad and depressed and you put on sad music, you are wallowing in it, dwelling in that dark place. That is not the solution, you must find the light, you must seek the light, you must cling on to the hope, you must keep going. If this is hard to start with, think of doing it for others rather than yourself, think of staying strong for them. If you don’t, all this noise, this chaos, will drown out the good, will dampen the hope and block out the light, and we cannot let that happen.

Get creative. I am of course biased, but I know I am not alone in the belief that art has a huge, and very real, place to play in all of this. Even more so than ever, at times like this, when many sci-fi stories are now becoming a reality, when so many people appear to have lost their way, this is the time. This is the time to immerse yourself in your own reality, to believe that anything you dream is possible, because when things are happening that no one believed could or would ever happen, when the boundaries between what is real and what is dreamt has been blurred, there is your evidence, there is your reason for propelling yourself even more so into something that drives you, something that feeds your soul and makes you come alive. Because if you come alive, everyone around you will start to feed of that positive energy as well. When there is less to lose, there is everything to gain. Let this be the time when everything has turned on it’s head and so you must turn everything you thought to be true on it’s head. What do you really want, what do you really believe. Let the answers to these questions be positive ones, and put them into action. Inspire and encourage everyone around you to do the same, to choose their own path and to question the path that has been dictated to them. You can do what you want to do, you can choose which way you want to go. And yes, things will happen that are out of your control, but that is not a reason to become despondent and give up, it is actually the opposite.

I hope that made some sort of sense. I typed that at a record speed because it is the only way to try and get my thoughts down and into something that makes some sort of sense before the thoughts seem to dissipate and I can’t remember what I thought, what I felt. So I am hoping I got there in time, I am hoping I managed to record the thoughts I had this morning, so that you can hopefully take something from them.

And if it didn’t, here’s some more quotes that might.

“ No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” – Robin Williams

“Art is an attempt to compensate for some of the difficulties we have in human connection” – Alain de Botton

“The power of art can break the shackles that bind and divide human beings” – Daisaku Ikeda

If you liked this post you might also like this one which I wrote after Brexit, and this one, or maybe this one..

Thanks,

Holly  x.

If you liked the image at the start, ‘Soar’, it is avialable as a print HERE.

Twitter @hollysharpe

http://www.hollysharpe.com