There have been many blog worthy events in my life lately, but my poor time management skills have prohibited me from scheduling any serious writing time.
I guess I’ll start with the most recent happening in my life. Most likely that is also where I’ll end because lets face it, too much of a good thing can get boring. I’ll try to make it quick.
Two months ago I stepped (actually, I was pushed) way out of my comfort zone. Now, I consider myself a very adaptable person and I’ve had my share of positive life experiences that were often the result of my being pushed out of my comfort zone, but for the most part, I prefer to stay in my comfy little zone and maybe extend an arm or leg into the uncomfortable world of unknowns from time to time. After all, what is life if you don’t live on the edge just a little?
What makes me uncomfortable?
Large groups of strangers
Talking about myself
Talking about myself to a large group of strangers
Oddly enough though, I’ve been known to respond to online invitations to attend groups and meetings with people I’ve never met before and for the most part I have always had good experiences with doing that. I’ve also had to give presentations and even talk about myself just a little to rooms full of strangers. I can do it, I just don’t like to. But nothing causes me greater discomfort than having to share my “art” and vision with people, strangers or not. That may come as surprise to the faithful few who follow me on Facebook, Instagram and here where all I do is write about my explorations in artistic discovery, but trust me, it is not something I feel entirely confident or comfortable doing. Which explains some of my long absences here. I do it because I feel I have to if I expect to go anywhere with any of this. ANYWAY….
On one of those occasions where I decided to drift into the unknown by attending a lecture on social media marketing for artists (with a friend who I also forced out of her comfort zone…) there was mention by the facilitator about applications being accepted for EDGE. EDGE is a one week professional development resident program that helps emerging artists develop their goals. It has helped many an artist set goals and launch successful careers. The deadline to apply was June 31st. I found out about the program on June 29th – I’m a little foggy on the exact dates, but the point is I didn’t think about applying because well, that would have been way too uncomfortable. I would have had to show actual artists my work AND write about myself AND write about my work and I was not / am not in any way ready to think about applying for anything like that. I knew though, that my friend was more than ready and I encouraged her to apply, which she said she might consider while also making a million excuses as to why she shouldn’t. Oh, we are so good for each other.
I put EDGE out of my mind and on the morning of the 31st my friend sent me a hilarious text message. She had decided to apply for EDGE and she thought I should too. I sent her back an “LOL” she – of all people! – had decided to apply! I was shocked, amazed, impressed – she did it, good for her! But I had to laugh at her thinking for one moment I was at that level. And that is when she pushed me. But for some reason, I was ok with playing along and thought: what is the worst that could happen?
Well, I could have my soul crushed like a walnut under a wheel loader is what could happen! And frankly, I have had enough of that for the past two years. It’s not so much that I can’t handle rejection. Well, yes actually it is that. I suck at rejection, even though I’ve had plenty of practice with it over the years, it never gets easy.
At her urging and pushing I decided to arm myself with some duct tape for the soul and give it a try. After all, I had 9 hours to fill out the application. Plenty of time. I completed the process with about 10 minutes to spare. Then I waited. I figured there would be no news until after the July Holiday, so it was pretty easy to forget about it, plus I was pretty sure there wasn’t a chance at all I would be accepted. Then still I wondered…
A couple of weeks went by and I received a very happy and nervous text message from my pushy friend (yes that is how we communicate – rarely do we ever talk to each other, this way we can stay in our comfort zones and still be social) that she had been accepted! I was so super happy for her. And I patiently waited for my rejection letter to come.
It never came. I began to feel a little tremor in my soul. After a couple of weeks, my soul cracked.
Apparently my artist’s statement, statement of work, my “art”, my application was so horrible none of it was even worthy of a rejection letter. I laughed to and at myself. What was I thinking? If It was just a mail in application perhaps the rejection would not have caused me such distress. However, with social media and so many of us on-line everywhere, there was a very deep gut wrenching feeling that not only do I suck, but that I was being passed around on every type of media device known to man. I could hear the laughter, the jokes and I convinced myself to be happy that I had brought so much joy to so many people for a day. But I seriously became quite embarrassed for a few days too, thinking that everyone from the program might have peaked at one or all of my social media sites in order to assure themselves that they really don’t suck so bad after all.
As my soul crumbled to dust over a couple more weeks, I did finally receive the rejection letter I thought I was so unworthy of. I felt better. I looked at the bright side, the application had forced me to look hard at my goals and think about what I really want to do, should be doing or NOT doing. I also wrote an artist’s statement, a bio and about my process. True, none of it was good enough to convince anyone of my potential, but what I had left was a really polished rough draft that could be tweaked for future use.
HA! Future USE? Like that is ever going to happen.
Yet, I keep at it. Why? I’m not sure. I will say though, I think I have given up on the art aspect of what I am trying to do and may just stick with making what sells. Or I may not. I guess I’m still riding that wave.
And so I continued to go to my studio on a fairly regular basis and just kept making anything that came to mind. Feeling pretty satisfied and generally happy with the process, but like a complete failure with the finished “work”. Yes, these are fun, people like them, but what do they say?
Then, leaving my studio yesterday I had a thought; “#@(K this *(&T I’m going to do ART. And it might be weird and strange and SUCK but at this point , I just don’t care.” But then, maybe it wont be weird. Maybe it will be pretty and nice and that is ok, right? And no one even needs to know it exists.
And Then (Again)
I came home yesterday and went through the routine of checking emails and OMG… what should I find in my in box?
These exact words:
Happy Wednesday to you! You were next on our alternate list in case someone from Visual EDGE had to unexpectedly drop, which just happened.
Well, how funny is this? I was pretty quick to want to say “YES!” but before hitting ‘send’ on that, I stopped to think… I was still super excited about my friend getting accepted and the thought of us going together was more exciting than my receiving the offer of acceptance (for a few seconds). I knew she was going, but I also know how she can sometimes talk herself out of things and I wondered if perhaps her anxiety might have gotten the best of her. How funny would it be if I accepted and SHE was the one who dropped out? Clearly this was beyond a text message and a phone call was absolutely in order. Plus, I was not entirely sure I really wanted to go, the thought of being there with all those strangers, talking, showing my “art” to judges and critics… not exactly healing balm for the soul.
After confirming she was, indeed, still attending and convincing me of why it was super important for me to go and what an honor it was to have such a great opportunity, I went ahead and hit ‘send’ on that email reply.
And now, I must go sweep up the dusty crumbles of my crushed soul and return to my comfy place where I will take aim and get ready to toss every little bit haphazardly over the EDGE.