Embracing Uncertainty

Fear seems to be a constant companion for those doing creative work. Fear of failure, fear of success (it’s real), fear of humiliation… so much fear surrounds allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to follow our hearts.

#truthbomb…failure in art is not what we think it is.

Failure in art is in not making art. It’s got nothing to do with anything an audience says or does, best-seller status, or a sell-out show.

Not making your art is the only way you can fail as an artist.

Liz Gilbert says this and I believe it. She knows a thing or two about art. I can write this until I’m blue in the face, but how many of us really believe it? I do, mostly, but I’m lucky. I’ve got a support system, a successful business. But I still get fearful and worry that I’ll never find my audience. That all this will be for nothing.

Boo hoo, I know. People are dying trying to get an education in third world countries. And the USA.

The self-help gurus tell us to follow the fear. To ask the right questions when we’re fearful, to work through it.

Questions like, What’s the worst thing that can happen?

Am I going to die?

Is this going to hurt someone?

That’s great, but I don’t want to follow the fear! I want to do what Joseph Campbell said and Follow My Bliss! Fuck Fear! I prefer the carrot to the stick any day!

Goals and dreams, rewards and milestones go hand and hand. We all need something to keep us going, someone to throw us a bone, to be our cheerleader. And we need to be that for ourselves. On a daily basis.

My own go-to cure for fear of failure is action. I work daily at my art but the fear is still there, lurking beneath the surface for the times that I waste a little too much time on social media. The times I don’t quite get the work done.

Tony Robbins‘ famous Ted Talk about what drives us, talks first about our drive for certainty and apparently we don’t always use positive methods to gain certainty. Our patterns can, unfortunately, drive us to make some pretty shitty decisions that are nonetheless comfortable. Like drinking too much, or going out with someone that we know is not going to be nice to us, or giving up on our art. It’s what we’ve always done, it feels safe. Shitty, but safe.

I try to work on the positive side of certainty, doing the work, staying focused. But if certainty was my main driver, I wouldn’t be an artist.