Have you ever had an idea or completed a project only to hesitate to share it with the world once it’s finished? Have you experienced artists’ anxiety that cripples you in moments that are supposed to be framed in happiness and success? I’ve been there myself where I work really hard on something and feel so proud of my work. Then, when it’s time for me to start sharing my gifts with others, all of a sudden – I feel it’s not as good. I begin to think of negative thoughts others may have about my work and heavily scrutinize every detail. This is all just fear associated with being vulnerable enough to share my art and receive feedback.
Why Sharing Your Gifts Can Be a Positive Experience
Let me share that every time I have this fear and push past it, the result is always positive. I’ve come to realize that not only am I my worst critic, but people also really appreciate my work and want more of it. I’ve come to learn that sharing your gifts with others is always worth the uphill climb of fighting your fears.
Use Comparison As Inspiration
When you are really passionate about your craft, there are natural waves of doubt. You wonder if people will resonate with your work the way you intend. Once you’ve exhausted yourself on a project or a concept, it’s easy to wonder if it’s worth it or to start comparing your work to others. Watching others thrive in their creative work, while you are still figuring things out can damage your artistic ego and put a damper on your perception. I want to encourage using comparison as inspiration. Train your mind to understand that there will always be people ahead of you who are thriving and more successful than you. There will also always be people who are behind you, who admire your work and wish they could accomplish what you have. Shift your self comparison to inspiration by following the footsteps of powerful people who are open enough to share their process. Be grateful for the chance to learn from multiple examples around you. Understand that everyone learns from and draws inspiration from someone or something else. As you are inspired by others, remember that you too are an inspiration.
There Is Only One You
It is important to realize that nobody can create what you can. You are the only one who has the key to your soul and its ingredients. Everyone has a purpose and a vision, yours deserves to be seen. I think we need to ponder more often about our individual contribution to the world. We need to understand that our voice and work is all important to society. Most importantly, we have to remember that sometimes the work is for us and not everyone else. Sometimes we have to make things because they resonate with our authentic selves. Try not to become addicted with the approval and praise of others.
Use putting yourself out there as a character building tool. The more you address your fears, the more brave you will become in all aspects of life. The most humbling part about being a creative, artist, or entrepreneur is getting outside of your comfort zone and doing things you find scary or challenging. When I feel insecure, I try to remember how important it is to live authentically as an example to younger black writers or professionals who do not yet believe in themselves. I want to be inspirational to those who feel like they are so far from self created bliss like the actress Viola Davis. Tamu speaks of Violas’ Emmy win as the first black woman to receive the award saying, “Thank you Ms. Davis and all of you redefining the beauty and brilliance of black artists everyday. You renew our drive to dream, to pursue those dreams, and to walk up to the line and give our all to cross it.” That’s what it’s all about – crossing that line of fear.
Hurry Up & Fail
I try to remember that the worst thing that could happen is me failing. Someone once told me to “hurry up and fail”. Never be afraid of what could go wrong, because there will be a great lesson attached to each loss you take. This lesson can be applied later in life, and prevent you from making the same mistakes on higher stakes projects and releases. Most mistakes are also not obvious to our consumers and seem way bigger in our heads. Lessons are meant to teach you what NOT to do the next time. The faster you make mistakes, the faster you can be successful.
How To Follow Through
Upon completing a project, I suggest holding it to your chest for a little while. Even if it’s just for a couple days, take some time to admire your creation and celebrate yourself. People all over the world have ideas and dreams they never follow through with. If you transformed a single thought into reality, you should be so proud of yourself. Be proud of your baby for a while before you prioritize pleasing others. The next thing I would suggest is sharing your works with those who genuinely support you. Choose a couple people who will be graceful and honest with you as a way to dip your toes in the water. This will get you a little more comfortable with the anxiety of sharing with a larger number of people. Your supportive friends will give you the boost of confidence and appreciation you need. The last thing to do is just release it. Be okay with whatever the outcome may be, because this is still an accomplishment at the end of the day. Be gentle with yourself, your passion and your light.
Image credit via @cas_amandaa