Why You Should Embrace Self-Doubt (and Hugs)

Me on my studio floor today circa 10am. On or approaching a complete meltdown.

Me on my studio floor today circa 10am. On or approaching a complete meltdown.

The creative process is tricky. One day you're elated and sure of yourself, the next day you can swear you've never possessed a talented bone in your body...I'm back from a very brief two-week vacation visiting my family back in NJ, and already in the studio trying to fire up some new work. I've been called on to stand and deliver, yet again, for some pretty exciting opportunities and I can't wait to share them all with you. There's just one catch. These events are all contingent upon one thing: me, actually showing up and painting. Right now. For the next few weeks. And painting well.

It's no surprise then that the pressure's on. I've been in the studio for some hours, other times I've been on the couch watching TV shows on demand, and sometimes, I've just been laid flat out on the floor due to mental exhaustion. I want to call it quits, hang up my painting apron and just walk away for a few weeks or months, but I know that's not a good idea. I realize that as a professional artist, waiting around for inspiration to strike is just not an option. You have to show up everyday. Even on days you don't want. 

This post is about a recent realization I had to share with you. Maybe it will relate to some endeavor you are about to embark on in your own life. Maybe you've already mastered it and learned to quiet that voice. But today, I wanted to share my thoughts on the ever-present noise of self-doubt, and why I think we perfectionists should embrace it.

It's no surprise that this self-doubt noise came up when it did. Just a week ago, I was galavanting through the MOMA and The Whitney Museums of New York City in the presence of some of the greatest art produced in modern history. It was inspiring to say the least. Fast forward to a week and half later, with new deadlines in front of me and boom, the fear set in. 

Rothko and Me, MOMA, NYC

Rothko and Me, MOMA, NYC

Watching my Pinterest account come to life. De Kooning, The Whitney, NYC.

Watching my Pinterest account come to life. De Kooning, The Whitney, NYC.

For you, it may present itself in other forms. Maybe it was triggered by looking at the empty bank account for your creative endeavors. If you were really a successful expert in your field, wouldn't you have the money to show for it? Or maybe you're still waiting for payments from previous clients in the year. How can you call yourself a professional when you can't even get a steady flow of income going? Maybe it was triggered by comparing yourself to your peers in the same field. If only your work was as good as theirs, you'd be set, right?

Wrong. And here's why. You're people, tribe, clients, whomever, they're not counting on you to be as good as anyone else. They're counting on you to be the best version of yourself. But we know this right? I don't think any of us out there are trying to be carbon copies of anyone else. We believe in the integrity of our work and our potential. So where's all this self-doubt coming from? I have a theory:

Self-doubt is a sign that you're a true artist, a true professional, or a true expert in your field.  You have so much respect and knowledge for the amount of work and dedication that goes into your passion, that of course you begin to doubt yourself. That's not a sign of defeat, that's a sign of maturity and it should be embraced. For most of us, when we first started in our respective callings it was motivated by one thing and one thing only: curiosity. We were genuinely curious about how to craft the perfect short story. Or how to mix the perfect colors for flesh tone in a painting. Or how to get that perfect dance move down.

Applaud yourself for the amount of hours you've put into being a true fan. If not in the studio, then in your head and heart, and realize that that's what it takes to stand out from the crowd. You're no fraud. You're no wanna be. You're the real deal and that's why you feel as strongly as you do to be the best possible. 

I don't know if I will paint my best work in life in the next few weeks, but I'll be damned if I don't try for fear of failing. Please don't give up on anything that's challenging you right now. Please give and receive lots of hugs. Drink plenty of water. Put on some rocking tunes, and face what's eating you.

Hope this sizzled with you even in the slightest. And I hope you stick around for more updates next month for future exhibitions.

As always, with love,

Amira