It’s ridiculously easy to forget how far you’ve come when all you do is compare yourself with others and you do this habitually, automatically.
These past few days, I’ve been doing a lot of reflection and have made an insane amount of realizations, many of which are not at all easy to accept. After revisiting my dead blog from college (13 or 14 years ago), I realized I spent pretty much my whole life calling myself stupid, dumb, unlovable, useless, and inadequate. And when you tell yourself this all the time, that voice in your head is louder than anyone else’s. It’s all you hear. Thus, it’s all you believe.
I stopped making art at what I think was the most pivotal moment in my “career” as an artist. Until now I find myself hesitating to use that word to refer to myself and try to find a replacement just to avoid using it. I’ve gotten so used to failed attempts that failing was no longer new to me; in fact, failure has become ingrained in my comfort zone and I even took pride in it sometimes. Rejection didn’t bother me; I was used to it. I used this a shield, not realizing that while I was protecting myself from the outside world, I was warring with myself.
The last four or five days have been extraordinary—an awakening of sorts. I realized I’ve been sabotaging my efforts at living the life I dream of because I’m scared of my own potential, of reaching the uncharted territories of success. I’ve known for a very long time that I struggled with my self-esteem and have come to believe that I have gotten over it, only to find out by deeply reflecting on my thoughts and actions that I, in fact, have not.
At the moment, I am working on something else entirely unrelated to art, but I am hoping that, in the process, I discover how I can again utilize the skills I’ve worked hard to learn and begin to share once more with everyone what I am able to create. No matter how raw. No matter how flawed.
Let’s not be quick to judge and arrive at conclusions about things we haven’t pondered, much less understood. We have a tendency to fall into the trap of oversimplification—we jump to conclusions about people, ideas, behaviors without bothering to give them any of our time and thought. Sometimes the reason for people’s behaviors, especially those that impact their lives tremendously, and usually in a negative way, are much more profound and complex than what we see on the surface.
Have compassion for others, but most importantly, have compassion for yourself. Now, if, like me, you have not learned how, please, for your own sake, try to do so. It’s better late than never.