I recently had a conversation with an artist friend who was feeling a tad low on the confidence side.
We spoke of our aspirations, some of the hard realities of the art world, of our doubts and of how much work it was at times to simply keep believing in our artistic projects.
If you are an artist, or you know one, you certainly know what I’m talking about. The highs (Oh my god, isn’t it just GREAT to be creating, to feel inspired, to produce something new each time I set pen to paper!?) and the lows (Why the heck did I set out to do this again? Who would want to buy this anyway?! No one is liking my posts = I am a failure and this sucks).
Now don’t be alarmed, thankfully the lows are usually few and far between and most of my artist buddies, including me, get involved in a variety of projects which spread out the pressures and distract us a bit.
However, the conversation with my friend got me thinking about how, when we were 15 and daydreaming of a life filled with creativity, we could not have imagined that on some days we may come to feel down about our chosen path. And then I wondered – what would my 15 year-old self tell me today if she’d hear some of my own complaints… And how would she perceive my current life, my choices, my vision for the future?
Trying really hard to set myself back almost 20 years, here is what I came up with. You should try it too as the exercise was fun and definitely uplifting.
So here it is:
The 5 things that (I think) my 15 year old self would advise me now:
1. Whao, you’re old! Still looking good though! (…Ok, ok, the last bit is my 34 year old self talking…)
2. So you decided to finally do your art! Can’t believe it took you so many years! Imagine all the stuff you could have learned and made if you had just followed your dream from the beginning. Never mind, at least you’re doing it now! Cudos!
3. Your stuff is pretty cool. Quite different from what we were doing at 15. You’ve diversified. We always loved the “line” drawings and photography, but now you’ve taken them to a whole new level. I like that you’re experimenting!
4. So you say that sometimes you feel down, like, maybe just a little bit wondering if this was a good choice. Well, let me tell you, I will not allow you to waste another year not doing what your heart desires most! And you know what it is: it’s creating! So it may be tough sometimes, I know that there is pressure I can’t possibly imagine, but let me tell you this: what did we love doing most when we were younger? At 5? At 10? Reading and drawing and playing in sand. So get out there, read, write, draw and yes, play in the sand, coz that’s what makes you happy.
5. OK, so you’re telling me that “happy is not all there is when you’re 34” – I get it, it’s different now, but I am here to reming you of how amazing you imagined life could be if it were filled with art! And here you are, doing it! Try to remember how impossibly far that image was… and here you are, travelling like we always wanted to and doing what your heart wants the most!! Surely, that’s the most important thing, no!? And remember: don’t try to do it all. Being happy is already a huge achievement.
As I am writing this, I smile to myself thinking of how at 15 I had daydreamed a thousand times of distant travels, of exploring the world, of dark smoky cafes and of passionately getting involved in art, making it, but also appreciating it through other’s work. And then, here I am, doing just that.
At times, it’s so easy to get distracted with all that we “should” be doing. Thinking of my 15 year old self reminds me of the reason why I made the choice to try and simply follow my intuition and (dare I say it) heart! It’s a challenging road at times, for sure, there are many hurdles and some self-doubt, but at the very core there’s the firm confidence that all will be fine. My 15 year old self can be proud.
And here she is… in all her awkward teenage splendour, the 15 year old Anita (I can hear the collective cringe…)