Doubting Your Creative Self

BY MICHELLE MILLER

Growing up, my solace was my pencil and paper and locking myself in my room to create drawings that were an escape from my teenage world.  In that locked world of my room, there were no expectations put upon me by anyone or myself.  I doodled designs, I drew images from ‘Tiger Beat’ magazine, I drew my cats, I drew Betty and Veronica.  My sketchbook was a visual voice that I could not speak anywhere else.  It was just mine.

Because of this, my confidence grew.  Soon my outside persona melded with my inside.  Any time I needed to regroup, I retreated to my room and my sketchbook.  I always came back out stronger.

When I was in university, I actually felt quite confident in my creative skills because I had been pursuing them for years alone before entering post secondary education.  (Admittedly, I did have a lot of painting and creative guidance from my mother who was a Sunday painter).  

But, self doubt crept  in.  I admired the way others painted.  I was envious to their freedom of line and brush stroke.  I was comparing myself to them and I felt inferior.  

I was a serious art student and committed to regular hours of practice.  I would go home for dinner and  then religiously return by 7pm to work in the studio until 11pm or often much later.  There were a few regulars who joined in the studio those eves and we shared our concerns and our elations.  But I was still struggling.

Word got out of my struggles to one of my art history profs, Maia Bismanis.  

She approached me very nonchalant- like one day in the hallway while I was seated on the floor by the painting studio.  She crouched down beside me and chatted.  It was a brief conversation but a very poignant  one.  She basically said  that if we do not have self doubt , if we do not question ourselves, then we are arrogant.  We need that doubt to catapult us forward to learn and see clearly.  She commended me on questioning myself.  And then, just as casually, she got up and left.

Her kind and reassuring words have never left me. Thanks Maia, wherever you are.

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