Am I good enough?

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Each & every damn darn time I complete an article I get a sudden case of the dreaded ‘amigoodenoughs’. Let me reiterate:

Every.      Single.      Time.

My brain works overtime into this ri.dic.u.lous. sort of insane frenzy…  Am I good enough? Is it innovative enough? Is it clear enough? Did I forget something? Is there something new for people to learn? Is it supportive? Is it pretty? Am I sure I am done? Should I have added another piece? Did I proofread it well enough? Is it original and creative?  Is it at all inspiring? Can anyone do this? Is it too bizarre? Is it too common? Are the color palettes pleasing?  Are the pieces balanced? What will people get from it? Did I stretch my wings? Will the editors like it? Will it fit the issue they have in mind? What if it doesn’t? What if all the work was for nothing? OMG maybe I should start over. This isn’t good at all. This is the worst piece I have written. How boring am I? Am I good enough? … and it begins all over again. You know, that vicious circle thing.

Nothing is guaranteed. You may write a perfectly pleasing piece – it could be the nobel prize of art – and it just may get cut because it doesn’t fit. Granted, this has never  yet to happen to me – but I still worry it will. Financially, I have to place the majority of my time (or keep learning to) in things that I will profit from. I need to make a living.. and while rejection doesn’t bother me (much).. the idea of having wasted my time… THAT really friggin’ gets to me. Scares me. Scares the living bejesus outta me.. which triggers all the normal anxieties any one of us may have… and triggers my mood swings. Yikes. 

Earlier this year, was the first time I dropped the ball on an article. (i am still so, so, very sorry pokey) Mentally? I was in a bad, bad place. Physically? Not so good either. I was overwhelmed by life – overwhelmed by pain – overwhelmed with work – overwhelmed with home – you get the idea…  and when I couldn’t complete the task at hand, I beat myself up for it. I still do. It has and will always bother me.. that from time to time, this disease gets the best of me. I don’t want to be ‘that’ girl. Ya know? Things hit rock bottom for me this year… and I picked myself up. I have spent the year focused on getting that proverbial ‘all’ under control, while battling some life changes that would make a normal person crazy.

Still with me? I really do have a point here, I promise!

So I stopped writing, I didn’t commit to very much. I have found strength I forgot I had. I started over again, and began writing once more. When I completed my latest article, (which you should hopefully see in Somerset Studio next spring .. hello part deux) I was actually a bit surprised that my brain went right back to that way-too-friggin-rambly-insecure-mess you saw above. Talk about frustrating. Like a trooper though, I packed it up – shipped it out and hoped for the best. It is a good article, I think. Yet — is it good enough? I really get the most from inspiring someone to do something that they didn’t believe they could — I guess, like any of us… I want to know I contribute, that I have value – and that maybe, just maybe… someone else will gain something from that ‘thing’ I so loooove to do.

When the nasty lil thoughts hit me, I remembered something – a letter I received after my first article with Cloth, Paper, Scissors. It wasn’t the normal, ooo i like it… it wasn’t from someone I knew complimenting me… this was a stranger, who tracked me down.. and sent me the most touching note I have ever received about my writing. It made me cry. She gave me permission to share it years ago, and I hadn’t… but I think today I will. I would never post a private letter without permission.

I know this post is long. I know you may be sick of reading, I am asking that you continue doing sopretty please?

Chrysti,

I wanted to write to let you know how much your article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors has helped my 30 year old daughter.  She suffered an episode very similar to a stroke after the birth of her 3rd child last year and had to have surgery on her brain.  She has limited use of her right side and her speech is slowly coming back.  I have been trying to get her to play with some form of art or another (I am a cloth doll maker and jill of some trades) to help her heal and when I read your article I knew that I could get her to try her hand with this.  Her brain injury occurred on her left side and I knew that if I could show her how much fun she could have just trying some of the techniques she would find the confidence to try even more artistic endeavors.  One thing that we have been told is that the right side of the brain can compensate inadequacies (sp?) that happen to the injured left side and I knew that this was an art form that she would be able to do.

 She was a hair stylist by trade and color was her specialty yet she never felt that she was “artistic”.  Today she tried the first three steps in making a “Skinny Book” and even applied these techniques to some watercolor paper postcards.  We have taken a break until next weekend to let things dry.  I truly want to thank you for the great article with steps that made her feel like there are “no mistakes”.  She is her own worst critic and with limitations put on her now her self confidence and self esteem has been waning.  It was so fabulous to see her eyes light up as each new layer of play was completed. 

Biggest of hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

I of course, replied.. through tears.. the follow up note from her read as so…

Dearest Chrysti,

Thank you so much for writing and by all means share my note with anyone and everyone that you would like to.  You have a gift, my girl, and you were correct in saying that being “different” is one of your blessings.  Know that you touch more lives daily by creating the works that you do. 

When Morana first had her AVM episode they told us not to expect her to live.  A mother’s worst nightmare, I can assure you.  The blessings bestowed on us were many and we continue to be blessed in her healing process.  One of the many has been how you and your art have touched our lives.

When Morana was growing up she considered the art that I did daily just “something” her mom did.  When she was a little girl she drew daily but after a bad experience in school where they made her conform to what “they wanted” her to create she quit drawing, doing so only when assigned.

With this injury being on the left side of her brain I knew that if I could show her that there were no rules I could stir the right side of her brain to react positively.  I have always believed that art has healing qualities and I can already see this in her attitude and outlook about her life in general. 

Your article for Cloth Paper Scissors was just what we both needed to begin the baby steps in her art therapy.  I will be sending some pics next weekend to show you our progress. 

I will also be sharing with Cloth Paper Scissors what your article has stirred in our lives.  As “great” as it is to get “published” they (CPS) were the lucky ones in having you do such a wonderful article for them.

Biggest hugs to you, my dear!

kimber

See, this was my long-winded way of reminding you that despite our deepest reservations, despite our inner critics, despite what has seemingly become routine to us — through the good times, and the worst of times … we touch people. Our lives are all somehow connected, and each of us – has impacted someone in ways we may never know. In ways bigger than us.

Just by being who we are.

Just by sharing what we know.

So, goodbye, for now my-woefully-annoying-lil-insecurities .. I am reminded and trust that everything happens for a reason… once again. How many times will I learn this lesson in my lifetime? And Kimber? Thank you, for still being such an inspiration to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Chrysti

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17 Responses

  1. Beautiful story. And so very true! We are our own worst critics. I have been writing professionally since 1999 and I still feel those same inadequacies I did years ago. I’m not sure if it was growing up without that reinforcement or my introvert nature, but it is something that I, too, must combat every time I apply for a ghostwriting gig, every time I write an article, or an e-book, or even a blog post.

    But one thing I’ve learned, more so since I’ve started creating art and sharing it publicly, is that art and writing and anything creative is extremely subjective in nature. What one person likes, another hates or simply doesn’t get. And what one company buys, another may not.

    As long as we do the best we possibly can, that’s truly all we can ask of ourselves. Right?

  2. Chrysti… thank you so much for writing this post. I is encouraging that someone as successful as you goes through the same feelings as me… and still comes out on the other end. :)

  3. Chrysti – I want to reach through cyberspace and give you a big hug! Thanks so much for sharing as I know, whether it is a disease or just our own doubt, we all question whether we are good enough. Love you, girl!

  4. Thank you Chrysti for the very powerful reminder!

  5. Dear, dear Chrysti,
    Thank you so much for sharing this piece of your heart. While my very immediate reaction to your post was “Oh my goodness, she’s been published so many times – what about those of us who have tried and received the rejection letter(s)?”, it only took a few seconds, possibly even nano seconds, to hear what you are saying. Those feelings you identify, of huge self doubt, of being our own worst critic, of all the uncertainty, all the frustration, are so typical amongst artists, women, young ladies, & even much of humanity. And most of us do not face those additional challenges of Tourette’s Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. It does not matter if we are trying to write a book, an article or even some simple words in a card, to paint on a huge canvas, or draw a simple little picture for a child, to shake hands with or greet a new acquaintance, or maybe even smile at a stranger, these feelings can so quickly arise. Thank you again Chrysti for this sharing. Thank you for all of your courage, for being a survivor, and most certainly for letting us take some small steps beside you on your ever inspiring journey of creativity.
    Angels be with you Chrysti.

    Wendy xo

  6. Oh wow. This was a powerful post Chrysti, and the comments are all so supportive. It’s obvious that we all suffer from the same inward insecurities, despite the outward face we show to the world. You, and Kimber, have put it very eloquently into words. Just knowing that what you say or do can affect someone so positively has to be a great incentive to carry on despite the little nay-saying voices in your head. Thank you so much for this post.

  7. Hug.

    I always try to remember to remind myself that “this too will pass”.

    I’ve only recently discovered your blog via Susan Tuttle and I’m so glad I did. I find you transparent, emotive and full of life in the most positive of ways. You affirm the authentic vibe in each of us.

    Thanks. I’ll be back.

  8. I’m familiar with that same thing. It’s easier to be harder on ourselves – we know our own shortcomings better than anyone else. Since I’m not in your head, I can tell you that you come off as a strong, capable, talented woman. I think you do a fantastic job – and for what it’s worth, there are times when I wonder why I’m not as good as you are. See? It’s all relative.

    Try to embrace your differences and realize they are what makes you, you. And you’re special to lots of people! xx

  9. I just had to leave you a quick note, to say thank you! Thank you for sharing this..it brought tears to my eyes. I have a son with bipolar and I also suffer with a very painful, progressive and incurable rare disease that increases my limitations as it progresses and this post just warmed my heart so very much. I too have the crazy inner critic in regards to my art work. And I too hope that I can leave this earth someday having had a positive impact on the lives of those I come into contact with. You are an amazingly talented artist and gifted writer. Thank you so much for reminding me today about what is truly important..God bless you. And thank you truly..K

  10. I teared up reading this one!!

  11. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by ArtByChrysti: Am I good enough?: http://wp.me/pPTe-dU

  12. Your openness and vulnerability touched my creative heart. Thank you for sharing your fears so others might grow!

  13. […] it’s worth the effort, why not make it great? Why not put the effort into it that the effort deserves. Otherwise, why do it and put forth any effort at […]

  14. This is why I made an “inner cheerleader” SoulCollage card. We give way too much power to that inner critic so I try to listen to the voice that says, “hey , you rock!” :)

  15. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing!

  16. Your post touched me to the point…I got off my butt yesterday and managed to meet a deadline for submitting a piece of my pottery for inclusion in 500 raku.

    Not good enough nagged the whole process of putting together the packet over the past couple of weeks and I had given up on submitting the work. Why should I think my work is good enough?

    I don’t know if my piece will be included in the book…but no matter! I learned from the process ,so it is now less intimidating and I will try again. I will try again.

    Your words in this post, so close to my own internal dialog so very much of the time…helped me to take that frightening step. Every rejection is a step toward growth? Thank you so much for your sharing you deepest fears!

  17. Thank you so very much y’all — It has been a crazy week with my dad visiting and now playing catch up- i feel badly I haven’t had the time to respond individually! Pleae know, your responses mean the world to me. Thank you!

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