Last week I saw a FB post from someone I know addressed to a friend of theirs. The friend had stated that he was an artist.
My friend responded that she was, too. And then this: “I’m not very good.”
Funny how women say this a lot in conversation, and you don’t really hear it. But when it’s in black and white, it really jumps out at you.
And whether I hear it being said or see it in print, I have to wonder … says who?
My friend is not standing in the truth of her abilities. For one, I have seen her work, and she is good – very good. Of course, you may be wondering if I’m qualified to make that assessment.
I’m not an artist. Never went to art school. But I know what I like. I know I couldn’t produce the pictures she’s produced.
To me, my friend’s got talent.
So one has to ask by whose standard is she judging her work; her ability? Is she saying she’s not measuring up to her own standards or to the standards of anyone viewing her work? Or is she comparing her work unfavorably to the creations of her teacher or someone else?
Did Picasso think he could draw? And with whom did he compare himself?
(Picasso famously said about a group of children he passed that, “When I was as old as these children, I could draw like Raphael, but it took me a lifetime to learn to draw like them.”)
And then there’s Vincent van Gogh, whose work was largely unknown at the time of his death. He thought himself to be a failure – but he never gave up.
Van Gogh, for example, admired the artist Jean-François Millet. He didn’t necessarily aspire to paint exactly like him but rather to seek a reminiscence of the artist’s work, while adding his own personal interpretation.
Comparison only serves to take us away from our own vision and our own talent and generally make us feel bad, incompetent or lacking in some way.
One has to remember that to a third grader, a fourth grader is an expert – meaning there will always be someone further along than you are.
As women today, we must stop apologizing.
Of course we’re good enough!
So why should we find it necessary to qualify or critique our own work?
When we do, does it reflect humility or does it indicate a low self-esteem or a lack of confidence?
You may be tempted to ask why I’m making a big deal about an off-the-cuff remark such as the one my friend made. Don’t all women say something similar at one time or another? It really doesn’t mean anything.
Or does it?
True, we might laugh off a self-deprecating remark or two or jump to defend the person’s talent, but these feelings of inadequacy make their way into other aspects of our living and our feminine nature.
The truth is that even though we are good enough, a great many women feel they must be better, do more, please more, create more, have more, be better, be stronger and improve more.
But what are the odds we’ll actually live up to our own expectations? It seems impossible when we’re constantly setting the bar higher and higher.
We want more (and more).
And I have to wonder when will we be satisfied with our work? As a writer, I’ve faced the same challenge. There was a time when I, too, thought my work wasn’t good enough. And no matter how much I tinkered with it, I knew I’d never get it “just right.”
This is because the place where we (and I’m referring to all of us women here) don’t measure up is in our own head.
There are people in my life who see what I’m doing and wonder why I shouldn’t be further along some path they see me on. When actually, I’m exactly where I need to be at any given moment. And so are you.
The people in this world who expect more of us most likely aren’t doing what we’re doing. Not even close. Easy for them to judge, right?
My personal sense of accomplishment stems from the fact that I see how far I’ve come and that I’m working on something I have a burning desire to create.
People can interpret my vision any way they want. For me it’s about having fun, feeling motivated and inspired when I write.
I love what I do.
There are many creative people in my orbit. One of my artist friends recently said to me, “I’ll send you a picture of my latest masterpiece.”
That’s the ticket. This person is self-assured, satisfied and clearly proud of what they’ve accomplished and also … male.
Men, for the most part, seem to be on their own side.
Whereas a lack of confidence and a desire for perfection seem to be holding many of us females back.
Today I’m not going to delve into how we can gain more confidence or discuss why putting forth your best effort may be a better goal than achieving perfection.
Instead, I think as women we should support one another and strive to take our own side.
By this, I mean that we should show ourselves more compassion, cut ourselves some slack and relish our individuality.
Let’s pump ourselves (and others) up and make ourselves (and others) feel good. Let’s stop saying I’m not that good and replace it with, “I love painting.” Or, “It’s so interesting to learn about ______.” And how about, “I’ve mastered so much since I began taking classes.” (Oh, and don’t follow up that last statement with “You should have seen me when I started.”)
These “not good enough” feelings affect our creations as well as our performance and the way in which we’re perceived in the world. These feelings are sneaky. They can come out of nowhere to thwart us, and they can leak into our life without our even being aware.
Be vigilant about whose side you’re on. Above all, be happy right where you are, know that you’re not going to be perfect in all things, accept that you are good enough (likely even more so) and find joy and love in all that you do.
Naturally I’m curious to know whose side you’re on. Please take a moment to consider these questions. Do you find yourself caving into feelings of not good enough? Do you make a conscious effort to free yourself from these feelings? Have you given thought to portraying yourself as “more than good enough” even if you don’t feel the truth of it (yet)? Please comment below. We’d love to hear from you.