The sun is out and the sky is blue on one of the last few days of February. A lovely and crisp winter day.
They say the things you want most are those that you have the most resistance to. It was brought to my attention just over a year ago that I am clearly holding myself back from success. No one and nothing else. A light went on inside me that day and I have been working hard to stop doing that. Now I find myself with contradicting emotions and the best example I can give as explanation are frustration and excitement in equal parts. Continually pondering why I have spent the majority of my life denying myself my biggest dream of being a successful artist. Why do I still find it hard to believe that I already am? I feel like a fraud. When people praise me with compliments about how talented I am I often feel surprised and fight the urge to look around and see who they are talking about. It sounds irrational but my old story is strong and I am really attached to it.
The worst part is that now that I am aware I have been doing it, I don't want to do it anymore, but can't figure out how to stop. I've spent the last 10 years or more on a path to self discovery and growth. Books and therapists and tea dates with wise friends have brought me such a long way from the negative depressed complainer I once was. I do not discount my wins, both big and small, and continuously and purposely strive to step out of my comfort zone to become a better and stronger version of myself. But the groove is deep.
On the flip side I am really excited about all the ideas I have for new pieces and pretty things to make. But I am not making them. I'm talking about making them. I should be in the studio right now finishing the half a dozen jewelry pieces that have been sitting on my bench for over a year. Literally that long. Some longer. Instead I clean the house and fill my schedule with tea dates, phone dates, and walks. WHY? The fear. Fear of success? Fear of failure? Fear of losing control? Not really sure which it is. I use to be afraid of everything and intimidated by everyone. Even though I don't feel that way half as much these days, I know I still have a long way to go.
What prompted this post is that I just spent the last two months preparing for a big cross country wholesale trade show and feared myself right out of success. I was afraid I would get so many orders that I wouldn't be able to make them fast enough which seems really hilarious now! A huge gamble for seemingly no payoff. Of course I learned a lot and have gotten over my fear of doing a show out of state and figuring out the logistics involved in flying to a show and packing all of my work and displays and buying lights and making a fancy line sheet. These are all great things and I am relieved they are done. I made connections and got myself seen. I did not feel afraid. I did not feel unprepared in any way. My booth looked better than it ever has and I was proud of my work. But something deep inside (lack of confidence and nagging self doubt?) kept me from getting one single order. I watched everyone around me writing them all weekend and kept a positive outlook and a smile on my face and at the end felt nothing but disappointment and confusion. And embarrassment. The protective wall I've built around myself has become something I can't take down even when I want to. I've put so much energy into trying to fit into societal boxes, constantly feeling like a misfit, only to realize I am here to make my own box.
So after a martini and a flight home and a few days to lick my wounds I am feeling many other things. Relieved. Accomplished. Excited. Aware. I now have time to make the things I want to make. To not resent pushing them aside for another year because I have the need to crank out orders. I get to go into my beautiful home studio and make whatever I want and I know from experience that getting started is the hardest part. That showing up to make the work leads to new work, and that I can lose myself in the process and forget all my worries. My lesson is to let go. To allow myself to be who I am and to stop hiding from it all.
I envy most those who can step into their true selves fearlessly. They are the ones who shine the brightest. I want so badly to shine.
There will be growth in the spring.