Friday, March 27, 2009

working through the fear

Recently, I was having a conversation with a talented artist friend who was telling me how a painting would often remain untouched in the studio because he's fearful that he'll ruin it. Though not surprised, it was a realization that other artists, myself included, deal with such fears. I'm not trained in psychology or counseling and can therefore comment only on the fears and barriers that prevent me from working on my art. I can talk about my experience with fear and its similarity to my friend’s.

So, what is fear? Is it a lack of self-confidence? From where does it come? Why is that I question my abilities and myself? Of what am I afraid: I'm not good enough; of success; of failure; that someone won't like my work; of rejection? Why do I allow it to prevent me from taking those steps forward to achieve my goals and dreams? Like you, the answers to these questions must come from within.

Being an artist is not easy. We put our heart and soul out there for others to judge. Heck, as artists there's very little we do that doesn't come with a jury or someone deciding if our work is good enough or the right fit. The only way I've found to deal with this irrational—but very real—emotion is to keep moving forward. To be true to my art and myself. To focus on the work and not on the "projected" opinions of others. In other words... just keep painting.

Easier said than done, right? When the grip of fear begins to overtake us maybe, we should ask ourselves; what's worse, working through the fear at the risk of destroying something in which we have invested so much energy; or, give in to the fear and never give our work and ourselves the opportunity to flourish. After all, isn't it through trial and error that we learn and grow?

The great soprano, Beverly Sills said, "I'm not happy, I'm Cheerful. There's a difference. A happy woman has no cares at all. A cheerful woman has cares but has learned how to deal with them." I think being fearless and fearful are very similar to Beverly's happiness and cheerfulness... I have fears but I'm learning how to deal with them.

2 comments:

Jim said...

I think there are things inside of each one of us that hold us back from moving forward. Call it fear, lack of confidence, anxiety, lack of vision...whatever...it is part of who we are as human beings. When we face it and work through it, I think two things happen. First, we continue on the journey toward living a fuller life - living life aubundantly - and second, we can help others to work through their fears by showing that it can be done.

FDR said we have nothing to fear but fear itself. When it comes to working through that which is inside of us, perhaps we should go beyond not being afraid to actually embracing those things which hold us back in order to grow to the next level.

Rose said...

I have a wonderful little book titled, "Art and Fear". I think it should be required reading for all artists or would be artists. It talks about this very thing. Basically, you have to be true to your heart no matter what.