Yesterday I painted. I didn’t write. I tried to write, but I edited the words before they got out of my head.
I wanted to encourage you to have courage and create. Make art even if no one likes it.
The words stayed in my head yesterday because it felt weird to encourage you to do something I struggle with.
I want approval. I want to be perfect. For years I wanted to have a blog, but I couldn’t decide on a typeface, so I never made one. On January 12th, 2012, my husband Nick helped me start a blog on WordPress.
“It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just start,” he said, “you can change things after you start.”
My first post, living in a perfect world has no images, and the title wasn’t even capitalized. I didn’t share it anywhere, and I hoped no one would read it. I was nervous and felt naked after I hit publish. What if someone doesn’t like it?
The acrylic paint I use for my paintings takes several hours to dry between layers. Yesterday, while the paint dried, I read, Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown. I am on page 172 of 287 pages.
Perfectionism is, at its core, about tying to earn approval. Most perfectionists grew up being praised for achievement and performance (grades, manners, rule following, people pleasing, appearance, sports). Somewhere along the way, they adopted this dangerous and debilitating belief system: “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.
―Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
I have the mistaken belief system that Brown talks about in her book. “I am what I accomplish and how well I accomplish it.” Yes, the mistaken system. I know I am more than my writing and my painting. But, sometimes, the little girl who lives inside of me still wants her father’s approval even though he has been dead for fifteen years. The little girl wants an A on her paper and a shiny star on top of her math page for not getting any problems wrong.
My first grade teacher held up my math test and said, “Pamela didn’t get any stars. She had something wrong on every page.” And I still remember her standing in front of the classroom. I remember the feeling of dread and shame. I can see her arm held above her head holding up my paper if I close my eyes.
We are more than what we make. We are more than a good grade. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Please let me give you a gold star. You get the star no matter what you did today, you will get a star even if the dog you drew looks like a cow. You get a star because God made you and he loves you very much. You get a gold star because God doesn’t make mistakes.
Take a crayon, or a tube of lipstick and draw a big circle on your mirror. Write beside the circle. I am courage. Then stand in front of the mirror and put the reflection of your face inside of the circle. Please write, I am enough.
Creating art takes courage. Courage to stand out and be seen. Courage to risk failure, and to risk success. Art is dancing, painting, singing, writing and ______. Fill in the blank.
Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.
― Brené Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead
The more I become me, the less I care what anyone thinks. The little girl in me is growing up. Slowly, but I am not going to quit. I am not going to quit writing or painting and get a job at the local grocery store. No one may like what I do or say. But I will keep trying. I will write and edit, draw and paint.
It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.
― Andy Warhol
How can I encourage you to be brave, if I am not standing with you trying myself?
This morning I sat at my computer at 6:00 a.m. I read updates on Facebook before I started to write. The first thing I read was a quote by Andy Warhol.
Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.
― Andy Warhol
Let’s make art. Let’s get it done. And while people are looking at our work, reading our stories, or watching us dance, let’s make more art.
Will you make art with me? Will you be courageous?
Please tell me in the comments. I would love to chat.
p.s. The link to Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead, is an affiliate link. The pennies Amazon pays me helps to buy kitty litter. We have seven litter boxes and four cats. (And I clean the litter boxes.) Updated on October 10th, 2017, we have six cats now.