Friday, February 27, 2015

Humility is for suckers.

I got called out yesterday morning by a friend I hadn't talked to for a while.  I fully deserved it.  It was in regards to a facebook post I had made for a recent post on the art blog.

He pointed out that I seem to preface every post with a negative comment about my work.

Fair enough.

Not having ingested enough coffee at the time, I thought this observation to be mainly in reference to the blog post itself, which being a post about one of my first painting attempts, I thought was critical but fair.

It hadn't occurred to me that on the Facebook post, I had included the words "Be prepared for terribleness."

Okay, that's pretty negative.

Although I created the art blog with the intent of sharing more of the stories behind my artwork, I also wanted it to be a place where I could examine and critique my own work:  where I've improved and where I'd like to see improvement.

But I'm not going to lie. I tear myself down, a lot.  I've been using self-deprecation as a defense mechanism for a ridiculously long time, and it's a tough habit to break.

I know there one major thing at play here: there is the desire to point out my own flaws before anyone else can.  It's as though if I don't let anyone see that I might actually be taking this somewhat seriously, then I don't have to live up to the expectation of being any good at it.  It's the thing that keeps me referring to myself as a dabbler, or a hobbyist, as opposed to an artist.  I feel like if I act like I take it too seriously, then I'm at risk at becoming the living embodiment of the insufferably pretentious art snob.  So I fall back on "Ha ha, I suck."

I've always felt rather mediocre at most of my endeavours.  Perhaps I've only ever been mediocre because I won't allow myself to immerse myself in anything enough to be more than 'just okay' because if I do, then there will be expectations.

And let's face it.  Pride is still considered, in many circles, to be a vanity, a sin.  Women especially are expected to downgrade their accomplishments, to deflect compliments with phrases like "Oh, you don't mean that," and "You're just saying that to be nice." 


It's bullshit. The idea that people should be humble, should not draw attention to their strengths, is a great way to keep people down, to keep them from realizing their full potential.  We don't know the things we are capable of if a fear of pride or appearing immodest drives us to downplay every single accomplishment we have.  We internalize the message that those things we learn and do and become good, great, or even experts at (outside, of course, of those things we do to earn money, because capitalism.. you are your job, in this system) don't matter, that they aren't a big deal.

You, my friends, are a big fucking deal.  If you tried something new today, that's a big deal.  If you did something today that you love and did it even the teensiest bit better than you did yesterday, that's a big deal.

From today, I am going to try to work extra hard not to be so self-deprecating when it comes to my art, my music, my writing or myself.  I am a big fucking deal.

SOURCE

7 comments:

  1. Every day I wake up I squeeze the slave out of myself. I think Chekov said that.

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  2. I like, "Be prepared for terribleness." I want to use that and shock people with the hysterical laughter that's bubbling inside... if I can remember the thought I just had.
    XD

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    1. It does sound kind of like a villainous catchphrase doesn't it?

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    2. Yesss. The perception is grand! See me petting the hamster on my shoulder.

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  3. I'm an artist and I think that it doesn't matter if people like my work. It's not everyone's cup of tea. You don't have to please people. Just follow your muse. That's the important thing. It's not about judging it- it's about DOING IT. Keep going. Keep creating. Andy Warhol was criticized a lot, and he always said the same thing, "So what?" I you have some part of yourself criticizing your own work, perhaps it's time to say to that voice, "So what?"

    Just a thought! You made a lot of good points. I've felt that way, too, and honestly, I think I've grown beyond it, which is why I am giving advice quite suddenly and very much out of nowhere!

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    1. I think self-criticism can be good if it comes from a place of saying "this is what I want to work to improve" rather than a way of just trying to denigrate ones efforts. I do definitely agree that when it comes down to it, if the process is making you happy then it's necessary to tell yourself (and any other detractors) "so what?"

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Engaging in discussion and/or general sucking up.. that's where it's at!

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