A creative needs to embrace creativity and believe in themselves to be successful.
We all have our moments of doubt.
But, when these become a limiting belief that we tell ourselves as truth, we can really limit our growth.
I stopped making art for a long time because I didn’t believe in myself.
I have an undergraduate degree in art history.
The art history program at my university was housed in the fine arts department, which was unusual because in most universities it’s a liberal arts program.
Because it was part of fine arts, art history students were required to take two mandatory studio classes in the first two years to graduate – basic design and drawing.
I signed up for basic design first thing. As far as I was concerned, I was no artist.
I was the smart kid in my family. My youngest sister was the artist.
I already knew I couldn’t “draw” after taking a drawing workshop as part of my intro art history class the year before.
Design wasn’t drawing, so I jumped on it.
Embrace Your Creativity
I ended up loving the course, the instructor, and the freedom we were given to express ourselves.
It was one of the best experiences of my life and I considered switching my major to fine arts.
The next year came I signed up for the mandatory drawing class.
I went with the same instructor as the workshop and I hoped that since he already knew me he would show pity on my lack of skills.
The class was intense. It was 3 hours, 3 times a week, through both semesters.
Each class was structured the same.
We were provided with a subject to draw, some instruction on a specific technique, and then had about 2 hours of drawing time.
Our easels formed a circle around the subject of the day – a garbage bag stuffed with paper, a piece of angular machinery, a male acquaintance from another class as the nude model. (Yep. True story for another time.)
When we were done drawing everyone had to walk around the easels and look at each other’s work.
The class consisted of fine arts majors – I was the only art history kid – and all were technically skilled at drawing.
It was so embarrassing and I knew I didn’t belong there.
I could see it on the professor’s face when he walked by my easel. The same pained expression three times a week for 8 months.
After that, I didn’t switch my major to fine arts.
The humiliation of the drawing class tempered any enthusiasm I had left from the design course.
And, I stopped making any art for decades after.
Now, that class wasn’t the only reason I stopped making art.
There were other things and other ways that I let myself stop believing in myself. But, this was a big one.
This professor was an authority, and an artist, and though he was never unkind, there was always a grimace of pain on his face when he looked at my work.
Through the years I’ve always had this ache for something. A longing that was never quenched, and I couldn’t put my finger on what it was.
I’ve finally realized that it was that feeling I had in basic design of complete freedom to create, explore, and interpret.
Instead, I had let someone else define creativity for me.
That experience in drawing class stuck with me and created a limiting belief about my own creativity:
That I wasn’t an artist.
I believed that because I couldn’t make technically perfect drawings I couldn’t be creative.
And, that my natural creative curiosities – what my gut was telling me to make and explore – were wrong.
Creativity is a fragile thing. One critique or negative facial expression can make us shut it down.
But, the thing is, your definition of creativity, or art, doesn’t need anyone else’s approval.
Don’t let anyone else tell you how to be creative and just believe in yourself.
Did you ever stop making art and wish you hadn’t? Do you have any limiting beliefs that are holding you back?
Move past these by doing a gut check.
Examine what you think might be a limiting belief and where it came from.
Then decide if it’s true or something you’ve just been telling yourself. Chances are it’s the latter.
If it doesn’t serve you and where you want to go, discard it.
Believe in yourself and don’t let anyone else define creativity for you.
Check out these other posts to get you confident and creating:
Creativity is Mindfulness (and you need both to thrive)
The Importance of Beginner’s Mind in Life and Art