Do you have a problem being kind to yourself? I do. It’s easier for me to encourage others than it is to lift myself up.
If you’ve read some of my past blogs, you know that at the age of 58 I made a prayerful decision (along with my husband) to actively pursue a life-long desire. . . illustrating and writing children’s picture books. I’ve been at it almost a year now, taking some classes, researching, building a portfolio, honing my skills, being part of a group of writers/illustrators. You would think I would have moved up the ladder. However….
Two weeks ago I was in a large book store in the children’s section looking for a birthday gift for one of my granddaughters. When I stood surveying the wall of children’s books and seeing some wonderful treasures of beautiful illustrations, stories and indescribable talent I was suddenly overwhelmed. Tears stung my eyes and I thought, “why does the children’s book world need the likes of my drawings or stories? The self-doubts flooded my thoughts and I slid down the ladder.
On the ride home my husband said, ‘you’re awfully quiet…watcha’ thinking?’ I told him what happened and the question I asked, “why does the children’s book world need the likes of me? He said, “and what was your answer to the question?” Big help. I expected a little more encouragement, a little more bolstering of my ego. But his question also irritated me because I had no response. *sigh*
For two weeks the question has plagued me. Well, truth be told – it’s the answer to the question that is haunting me. If I can’t answer with something like, “because I have a supremely unique gift of talent, imagination and delightful insight” then maybe I don’t have what it takes. Just because I like to draw and tell stories may not be enough if I don’t believe people will like what I do.
I’ve never been a self promoter. I’ll show my art or stories to my family, but beyond that I’m pretty timid. When my daughter said, ‘Mom, you need to start a blog to promote yourself,’ I asked why? and if you look at the number of posts here, you know I’m still not convinced people would really want to hear my thoughts. I have friends and family who are all wonderfully encouraging, yet I think, ‘well, they just say nice things so they won’t hurt my feelings.’
Then today when I was emailing a completed drawing to my art class for an online critique something clicked. The title of the drawing, “Be Kind” is from Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another…” If another aspiring artist would have voiced the same self-doubts to me I would have been all over them with encouragement and affirmations [kindness]. Yet I wasn’t doing that for myself. I’m usually a glass half-full type of person, yet here I was draining my own glass with discouragement and doubt.
There are two groups to which I belong, Julie Hedlund’s 12x12x12 and Mark Mitchell’s How to be a Children’s Book Illustrator. These groups are wonderful at promoting one another and giving encouragement and kind critique. The level of camaraderie is only outshined by the sharing of talent and ideas. Their cheers are genuine when someone gets a contract, wins an award, does a great illustration or gets a great idea.
So – I’ve decided, I will be kind to myself. I will emulate the colleagues I so admire and give myself affirmation and encouragement. …and if once in a while you want to send me a little kind note, or a thumbs up, I’ll accept it as real. I am going to firmly plant my feet on the ladder rungs and keep moving up.
Now, I have to quickly post this because I’m beginning to think it’s not very interesting, or too long, or not something you would want to read……grrr……
So tell me how you are kind to yourself…. and If you would like to know my answer to the question, click here and go to the bottom of the post.