Self Love Files: On Being Bad at the Things You Love

This is my little temporary workspace. It’s in our cozy kitchen, close to the coffee pot and the snack cupboard. Mike and I moved our small kitchen table out, and he’s letting me use his drafting table. On it are my paints, pens, pencils, paper, drawing tablet, computer, and a DIY lightbox Mike made for me (isn’t he the best?). I’ve made a pretty nice space for myself, I’ve got all the supplies I need, and I even have a few clever ideas, but there’s one big problem – I’m terrible at art.

Let me rephrase, I feel like I’m terrible at art, or anything even remotely creative. I love making things, creating, but whenever I do I’m incredibly judgemental of what I’ve made. I look at so many amazing artists and think, “My stuff is total crap compared to that!” I haven’t been drawing/painting for long, but I already expect myself to be as good as my favourite artists.

It’s hard to be “bad” at something you love (“bad” being completely subjective). Sure, you know you’ll get the hang of it over time, but the practicing phase sucks. Sometimes I feel like practicing is just an exercise in failure. And after so many failures, I don’t even want to try anymore.

When art started to become a chore to me, something to avoid, I was pretty bummed out. What happened? What changed? I realized I had made the end results more important than the process. I cared more about what I produced rather than my experience producing it. You know that quote about the journey being more important than the destination? I think that applies here.

My new motto? It’s okay to be bad. Being bad is better than avoiding something you love for fear of failure. Eventually you’ll get there. Enjoy it for what it is. Be kind to yourself.


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