I have a secret and I’m just not gonna hide it anymore. I’ll just feel better when I admit this.
I am not really an artist.
Wait! What? Not an artist?
Yep. This has to be true because as soon as start thinking of myself as an artist, Mean Girl in the back of my brain hears about it and fires back a text that might go something like this:
• You have no clue what you are doing.
• If somehow a piece of your artwork looks okay, it must be by random accident.
• If you get compliments on your artwork, people are just being nice.
• Or pitying you.
• You have not suffered enough to be an artist.
• You did not go to art school, so you cannot be an artist.
• You are too __________ to be an artist.
• If you could just pull-off (technique here) as well as (real artist’s name here), you, too, would be an artist.
• But you never will.
• You don’t have the right kind of art supplies to be an artist.
• You don’t deserve the right kind of art supplies.
• You will never get into that show, so do not waste your time entering.
Mean Girl has a crappy attitude, and I don’t know why I listen to her. But she’s persistent, and loud, and she’s had a lifetime of practice.
I’ll bet you know what I am talking about, and you might not think you are an artist, either. Unfortunately, most of us have a Mean Girl hanging around. Yeah, maybe she is just trying to keep us safe, but she can also prevent us from trying new things, from daring, from dreaming. She can prevent us from believing in ourselves.
And she kind of pisses me off.
Unfortunately, Mean Girl has made herself at home. I don’t necessarily want her gone, but I think she would be fine in a guestroom somewhere sharpening her nails on a different issue. So until I can get her attention on something else, I turn the tables on her as often as I can. Here’s how:
• I call myself an artist. When people ask what I do, it’s my choice how to describe myself. There are no label police hanging around saying, “Hands-off that job description!” And saying to folks “I am an artist” feels pretty great.
• I’ve rounded up all the nice things people say about my art into an “Applause List.” When Mean Girl sends me one of her blasted memos, I read the Applause List instead.
• This is gonna sound so trite, but it’s really true: every experience is part of the whole journey of life. I try not to get too bummed when there’s a roadblock because sometimes roadblocks are really “Danger – Bridge Out Ahead” signs.
• When I complete a piece of artwork, I share it on social media. My friends give me great kudos and, amazingly, some of them even call me an artist. My friends can’t be wrong, right?
• Every once in awhile, I enter a competition, and — important! — let go of the outcome. (“Can’t win if you don’t try, kid. Lightning has to strike somewhere.”) And guess what? Sometimes I do get in. And sometimes I even win a nice ribbon or two.
• If I enter a competition and don’t get in, or don’t win a ribbon, I simply figure that losing this time increases my chances next time.
• I buy something I think an artist would wear, and boldly wear it. (Check these out!) When you are trying to “fake it until you make it,” a costume always helps.
These techniques don’t always silence Mean Girl, but they sure do shut her up from time-to-time. In fact, she hasn’t said a word for awhile now.
Maybe this means I really am an artist.
Either way, I sure don’t have a secret anymore.
I think we all have a mean girl or guy who loves to berate us when we try to do something creative. You found some great ways to get her to put her attention elsewhere – thanks for sharing them!→
Thanks! We need to give Mean Girl a project.. How about crochet?→
Most of us have a mean girl I can tell your mean girl to back off because I know that you are a wonderful, talented artist AND a wonderfully sweet friend.→
Aw…. thank you, you are SO kind. And thank you for making me burst out laughing, Ms. 12 Dogs Cannon.→
This year I actually said the words “I’m an artist.” when someone asked me what my jod was. I swear I thought I was going to faint but I said it! I’d made up my mind I wasn’t going to cop out any longer and just say I was retired and dabbling. I’m not. I’m,’gulp’, an artist.→
I suffered from “meangirl-itis” for a long, long time…..
These days I actually do call myself an artist and my grandkids even think I’m a famous artist! That’s cool.
However…. I still get recurring flare-ups of “meangirl-itis” ….thanks for giving us some techniques to nip it in the bud. Maybe it’s time to go buy some of those cool artist clothes.
Btw- love the “applause list”… I used to do that at work, but never thought to use it when a bout of “meangirl-itis” comes along.→
LOL! That’s wonderful! And not only are YOU an artist, but with your FB group, you help thousands of other artists (including me) feel like they are as well. Thank you so much for that! And I’m glad I could give you a technique or two to help quiet Mean Girl for awhile.→
Mean Girl’s sister, Snarky Alice, lives in my head and has the same routine. She was just as nasty when I was actively writing – now she’s shifted over to my art. You and I really ARE artists, Rhonda. If you need affirmation just let me know! Go back and take a look at the article from last year – and see how many goals you’ve met. You be an artist, my friend!→
Thanks Karen. I think we need to get Mean Girl and Snarky Alice to go on a permanent trip far away. Or at least change what they are mean and snarky about. We’re working on it. It’s fun being an artist, isn’t it? Wheee!→