Sunday, February 14, 2016

Stop Beating Yourself Up


For Valentine's Day: a love letter to artists.

You are doing a brave thing.

You could have gotten a "normal" job with a steady paycheck. The reliable and safe career your parents wanted you to pursue. You could have defaulted to the cultural norm of talking about how much you hate Mondays and "live for the weekend." Jokes about the "rat race" and how your boss is such an idiot. In the words of Timothy Ferris, you could have settled for "a tolerable and comfortable existence doing something unfulfilling."

But you wanted more than that. Whether you're a freelancer, employed at a studio, studying at art school or working a day job while building up your portfolio, you've chosen to do the hard thing, the scary thing.

You've chosen to jump into a career that is unpredictable and uncharted, a job that's full of rejection and criticism, a field that's highly competitive and notoriously low-paying, work that our culture considers "not a real job." You're choosing to brave all of that because you can see better things on the other side. You want to create something that you're proud of. You have skills that few other people have and you're taking a chance that many people are too afraid to take.

So, artist friends: stop beating yourselves up. Stop criticizing yourselves for not producing more, not being more successful, not having a clear direction for your career, not getting more online attention, not networking more, not studying more, not blogging more, not having this whole thing figured out already. Stop tearing yourselves apart for every little mistake and perceived shortcoming.

Treat yourself with kindness. You are doing a brave thing.

10 comments:

  1. Thanks for writing this article. It's good to be reminded sometimes.

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  2. "Steady" jobs are about as reliable as being a freelancer anymore.
    I have plenty of friends who took the "steady" path in life and did everything "right" and have ended up laid off and jobless through no fault of their own.
    In a world this uncertain and risky, why not take that next step and follow your dreams? :}
    You may actually find yourself more secure than had you taken that "steady" path.

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    1. That's a good point, Shen. Jim Carrey did a talk at a graduation where he said that his father taught him that "you can fail at something you don't love."

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  3. Thank you for this. I really needed it today :)
    Have a good one yourself!

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  4. Thanks, Kelley. I needed this today. And I'm saving it to my desktop because I know I'll need it again.
    Keep being lovely. You're such an inspiration. ^^

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  5. Had a really bad time last week and needed this! Time to work! :)

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  6. A very wonderful Valentine that I will read multiple times <3 thanks for the reminder

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  7. Thank you! I needed something like this. Though I'm not sure I like knowing I'm not the only one!

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  8. I just attended SCBWI conference in NY and saw your cover on Ranger in Time! I know you won the student competition a couple years back and to see you keep producing beautiful work is really inspirational! Thanks for the love note!

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    Replies
    1. That's awesome, Suji! I'm hoping to go to the summer SCBWI conference this year.

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