Why fear is a killer

large vessel with marks created in Fotoda

Last week, I posted about art, life and calling yourself an artist. How many of you, after reading that post, felt good about owning the label of artist. Yes! I can. Yes, I am an artist! Heck Yeah!!! Here we go … prancing into the world with a new appreciation for your newfound freedom. I was there too, with you, sashaying around the house arms high in the air singing “I am an artist, I am an artist” to the tune of some silent music in my head. Freedom indeed!

But I also talked about fear. The fear of not being good enough. Of comparison with others. Fear of being judged. Fear, fear … Fear. Fear is a killer.

On Saturday April 13th, I took part in the Global Quilt Connection Sampler Platter. It’s a format where 9 teachers share a technique of their choice for 15 minutes. One after the other, after the next and so on until all 9 have presented. It was live streamed on YouTube. It was an amazing experience! at the peak viewing, there were over 1600 people live watching. Yikes!

I was first to present, so it’s always a bit nerve wracking when you are first because you want to see how others do it. But … order was set and I was first. After introductions, I took a deep breath, got in the zone and did my thing. 15 minutes of sharing my technique of text on sheers. At the time, there were over 750 people live. A huge audience, right? As soon as I started talking about my project, nerves were a thing of the past. I had this! I had prepared, and I had practiced. And then, experience took over. I forgot about the audience, and the inner critics, and did my thing.

After my turn was done, I was able to go onto the YouTube channel and see the comments and questions come in. So I went ahead and answered questions, thanked the audience for their kind words, etc. etc. And for the next 3 hours, I watched 8 talented textile artists share their processes and their work with a huge audience. I even took notes and learned some things. Bonus!

Was I fearful? Yes, in a way. What I do is so different from everybody else’s that there’s always a bit of fear that what you are showing will be rejected. Or that they won’t “get” it. If that was the case, nobody wrote it in the comments. (Phew!!!). People seemed to appreciate it and the effort that went into getting it done.

Fear can be a significant obstacle to creativity, often stifling our ability to explore, experiment, and express ourselves. One of the most common fears that stifles creativity is the fear of failure. When we’re afraid of making mistakes or falling short of expectations, we may hesitate to take risks or pursue new ideas. Fear can be pervasive, as it has the potential to infiltrate various aspects of our lives and influence our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours.

We fear judgement from others. We fear being vulnerable and putting our work out there. Creativity often requires a willingness to be vulnerable—to expose our innermost thoughts, emotions, and experiences through our art. But then again, here come our inner thoughts: “What if …?” We fear comparison in today’s hyperconnected world. And we fear the unknown when we venture beyond our comfort zone.

So? We are human. And fear seems to be part of that. How do we deal with it so it doesn’t become crippling? The first step is to acknowledge its presence and recognize how it’s impacting your creative process. By bringing awareness to your fears, you can begin to understand their underlying causes and work towards addressing them. Remember that “What if it doesn’t work out?”. Well, I’d say to you: “What if it does?” You won’t know until you try and if you don’t try, you are preventing yourself from being able to say “OK, I did it! I tried it, and well … it didn’t work out the way I thought it would”. And that’s a great lesson to learn, because in there, somewhere – in that “failure” that the world would call it – lies possibilities. For learning, for tweaking, for creative solutions. Even if it is to say: “I did it, I tried it. I did not like it. I will never do this again.” Powerful! Remember, every “mistake” is a stepping stone towards mastery. Then again, fear could be preventing you from proclaiming: “Heck yes! I did it! I tried it! And I love it!”

One way to defeat fear is to focus on the process of creating instead of perfection. Find joy in the act of making, regardless of the end result. Allow yourself to savour each moment. Ultimately, creativity is a deeply personal endeavour and your art should be a reflection of your unique voice and vision. Forget validation and the judges out there and create art for yourself first and foremost.

And please, be kind to yourself and recognize that creativity is a journey filled with ups and downs. Practice self-compassion and treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges.

Thanks for reading. And until I write again, I hope you go try something new or different and you feel good about it – even if it was a stepping stone to greatness!


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