When I was a kid, confidence was not something I struggled with. I was probably a bit delusional when it came to my own talent, the peak of this being how shocked I was not to get a part in the 5th grade musical. I cannot sing in the slightest, never could! As a young kid, I struggled with confidence a bit in sports but grew out of that before middle school. You can guess from the fact that I have this blog, I’m not afraid to share who I am, and I am proud of it.
Yet, from a young age, I accepted I was bad at art, specifically painting and drawing. Art became something I had no interest in because it wasn’t worth it if the finished product wasn’t perfect, and it was never perfect to me. I remember even thinking my doodles in my notebook in the class were ugly, and they were just scribbles half the time.
My older sister is only a year older than me, and a lot of my childhood was spent trying to keep up with her. I want to be clear here that this was not an unhealthy thing but a mostly completely normal sibling rivalry. What I want to talk about is how with art, there is no way to directly measure it. I could be measurably better at my sister at sports like running (a common source of competition in my family), by the measurement of time. This is also how I could measure self-improvement. But with art, I was always the judge, and I always told myself her art was better than mine. I always decided my paintings or drawings were never good enough.
Middle school art class was kind of when doing art for fun really vanished for me. It was really hard for me for there to be so many people producing art that was better than mine. I couldn’t not compare myself, and that made it hard for me to enjoy. To be honest, my middle school art teacher was one of a few teachers over my education who I did not like, and art was my least favorite class. Seriously, I would have rather done math.
At the beginning of the current pandemic, I remember my mom making this list of ideas of stuff for my sister and me to do, and on it was paint. I remember seeing it and kind of mentally laughing, like fat chance I was going to paint. I have not painted or drawn for fun, probably since I was ten years old. One day, I felt like it out of the blue, so I painted some super simple daisies. The end result was in my mind good but still not great. Lots to pick apart if you look too closely or for too long.
Then at Christmas, my mom sent a hint she might enjoy paint by numbers for Christmas. I decided to get kits for my whole family, with the idea we would have a paint night with some wine, and the wine would make it enjoyable.
I was pleasantly surprised when I started and realized that painting without having to do the planning was actually very enjoyable and easy enough even I could paint something beautiful
Not only am I proud of the painting I produced, but I enjoyed the whole process. With all the craziness in the world, painting was the perfect outlet. If you can guess from this blog’s lack of posts, I’ve struggled with writing this last little bit, and painting presented me with a new creative outlet allowing me to produce something I am proud of.
So, I guess my message here try to revisit things you may have given up on previously. I know for many people this could be a lot of different things. I think there is something for each of us we have stopped doing when we did not get perfect results immediately. I could definitely even say this about my relationship with cooking. We do not have to be excellent at things to enjoy them; in the last two months I have finished two paint by numbers and it has felt both rewarding and been enjoyable. I never would have expected this a year ago. I still probably can’t paint that well freehand, but that is ok. We all need to put less pressure on ourselves to be perfect and instead be proud of what we can do.