I have just watched one of Jennibellie’s latest videos, and was so impressed with it that I thought I would share it with you here, and hope that you will benefit from it. She has come across people in the field of art comparing themselves with other artists, and the underlying lack of confidence that causes this behaviour, and this video gives several very helpful pointers to deal with the problem, and to learn from it.
I am experiencing problems with Google at the moment on Firefox (is anybody else?) and am unable to comment on blogs or Youtube videos, and I cannot open Google Chrome (at least using this laptop – the iMac seems to be playing ball, but it’s on my desk upstairs, and when I am feeling poorly and exhausted, I prefer to use the laptop from the comfort of the recliner). If I can get this problem sorted, I shall be leaving my own comment on Jennibellie’s Youtube channel and also on her blog, to let her know that I am in full agreement with what she says, and to thank her for her wisdom, and for sharing her experience with others.
Here is the video:
When I was young (immediately after leaving school) I had incredibly low self-esteem and absolutely no confidence in myself, and was full of fear of what the world would throw at me. I have made some humungous mistakes in my life (as we all have, I am sure) and have had to live with the consequences of these, but later understanding of my background and early experiences have helped me to understand that maybe these mistakes were inevitable, and not entirely my own fault. I have come to know that I am who I am, and can only build on that, helped enormously by my Christian faith and an understanding that God has a purpose for my life, and that He has allowed certain things, and will never test me beyond my strength. (Romans 8:28 has been my watchword throughout my Christian walk!)
Confidence in myself grew in my 30s, when I suddenly realised that it really didn’t bother me so much what people thought of me – Jennibellie points out in the video that actually other people are so wrapped up in their own issues that they probably don’t give us a second thought, so our worrying is all castles in the air! My mum used to say this to me when I was younger, and she was right. OK, I’m never going to shine in the fame and fortune stakes, am not genius-standard intellectually, and will never be a wealth-producer, but I am me, a bit of a jack-of-all trades and master of none, but I have gifts and talents specific to myself and it’s up to me to use them to the best of my ability, and ****** the rest!!! Mum always says it’s a good thing we aren’t all the same. She’s right. If we were, there would be too much done in one field, and nothing else would get done at all!
I think artists are particularly susceptible to comparison with others, and being far too self-critical, whether they are in the field of physical and visual arts, or music. I have found singers to be incredibly sensitive in this area – the voice is such a personal thing, as one’s instrument is oneself! I have recent experience with somebody who although very confident in the field of music, exhibits all the signs of lack of confidence in her work as an artist – she is a beginner, and comes over with lots of negative comments about her work and how she doesn’t consider herself to be a “real artist,” and doesn’t think she is creative. She is comparing herself with me, which is all very flattering, but I did my best to encourage her as she embarks on this new area of creativity.
I have often found myself comparing my work with the work of others online, and in every case these people were more experienced than I was, and I found myself wishing I could have come up with such original ideas. “I wish I’d thought of that…” However, discussing one of my pieces recently, I was told how creative and original it was. We do need to look at our own achievements and let them stand alone, and listen to what others say to us about them, and about us as artists too – this can be incredibly encouraging and confidence-building.
One thing I have done often, which Jennibellie suggests on her video, is to look back at my earlier projects and see how I have moved on since those days. This is one reason why I have a blog. It’s such a useful tool! The other day I was reviewing my Youtube videos and felt acutely embarrassed at one of my very early ones, “What’s in Shoshi’s boxes?” I made this small series just after I started what I then called crafting (I now consider myself to be an artist rather than a crafter – many self-confessed crafters, in my opinion, should maybe rebrand themselves likewise!), before I had a dedicated space, and had to get the boxes out and work off my lap, or off the dining room table. Those who follow my activities will know that I am now incredibly blessed with a purpose-built studio, my new ARTHaven, and over the years I have accumulated a large quantity of materials and equipment, and also a lot of experience, and growing confidence along the way. Having watched Jennibellie’s video, I have decided to ignore my recent impulse to delete those embarrassing early videos from my Youtube channel! Maybe if others compare them with more recent ones, they also will be encouraged to press on!
I love how we are all unique, and no original work we do is the same as the work of others. Recently I was hankering after a definitive style which would say “Shoshi” to anyone who saw it, but several people have commented recently that various things were in my style, so even if I can’t see it, perhaps I have developed my own unique style after all!
As I grow in experience and confidence, I have come to realise that given my resources (which I fully understand that not everyone is as fortunate to have available), and given some time thinking, planning and imagining, I can do anything I set my mind to. Ideas for projects that have long remained dormant because I couldn’t think how to achieve them will come to fruition, adding another brick to the construction of my growing confidence in my abilities.
The most important lesson in all this is to “Enjoy the journey”! Life, and art, are never static. As individuals we are never static – we grow and change, with time and changing circumstances, and with experiences that impact us and add another dimension to our creativity. What an adventure it all is!
Life is too short to sell ourselves short by thinking we are not as good as other people. There are many different levels of ability, but it is where we are now that counts, and each step along the journey is a step in the right direction, building on past experience and growing in confidence. Various people have commented under Jennibellie’s video, that the only person we should compare ourselves with, is ourselves.
One thing I have found incredibly uplifting and encouraging is the response of others to the work that I am producing – the joy I can give by making, rather than buying, a gift or card – how valued, loved and important it makes the recipient feel. It is in blessing others that we ourselves are blessed.
I am not able to participate in the weekly blog hop WOYWW (What’s On Your Workdesk Wednesday) at present because of other things going on in my life. My workdesk has backslid into a dumping ground again! Today my hubby and I came to the final farewell celebration as he embarks on retirement. We have both been overwhelmed by everybody’s kindness and appreciation for all that he has done to help people in his long career, and by their generosity in the form of gifts and cards, parties and meals provided, and tears shed. We are both feeling pretty wiped out by the incredibly emotional experience and need a few days’ peace and quiet to adjust our inner compasses and get into a new routine.
We are going away on holiday this coming Friday – our first holiday in four years. Over recent years we have both been very busy dealing with all the problems of having extremely elderly parents – settling Dad into residential care as his dementia progressed until his death early last December, and doing our best to care for Mum who was unable to cope on her own. Getting the three of us moved into more suitable accommodation for us all was the great adventure of last year, and from the New Year I felt it was a fresh start, and a springboard to a new way of life. With retirement, there will be financial adjustments to be made as we will be living on a much reduced income (which makes me very glad that I have invested so much in materials and equipment in the past in my ARTHaven!!) and although my life won’t change much – who said “Wives never retire”? Lol! I shall still be cooking and doing the laundry etc. etc.! – but it will be very different adjusting to having a hubby who is no longer working – he has been working (and very hard) all the years I’ve known him, and I can’t yet get my head round what it will be like!
Here we are, last Sunday, at the penultimate farewell party, with the most gynormous cake I’d ever seen:
In May, my hubby celebrated his 65th birthday, and I my 61st, and also it was our 28th wedding anniversary, so quite apart from his retirement, there’s been a lot to celebrate.
To finish, here is a picture of Phoebe looking opulent on my cushion which I chucked onto the floor last night as I settled on the recliner.
I hope you have found this post helpful. Thank you, Jennibellie, for your words of wisdom, which I think we creative folks all need to hear – we all need a refresher course in attitude management sometimes!