I have suffered at the hands of my own inner critique. For years and years and years I’ve listened to the tiny, nasty little voice inside my head that breaks me down every time I’m not ‘as good’ or ‘better’ than everyone else.
Don’t ask me why.
I have suffered by that little voice more so than at the mean hands of any playground bully. I was nasty to myself. I talked myself into hating everyone and everything for a good chunk of my life. Swimming turned that voice and outward and used it as a coach. There was no second place for me. I hated my body, I hated the way I talked, I had to become something better to get anyone to like me.
That’s called people pleasing, kiddies. Don’t do it. It’s not healthy. It can turn you into a doormat. Which, I also was. For a very long time. Landed me in therapy, that did.
Art is a very precious thing to me. I’ve been doing it since I was five, and have enjoyed it. It’s fun to create, fun to mimic and learn how to do something new or to try out a new technique and later incorporate it into a lexicon of skills.
It’s not fun comparing yourself to other artists and then obsessively looking up tutorials and scouring Al Gore’s internets to make yourself be better than them, so you can get adulation and love for your skill.
Last night, I learned that I can’t shade fabric. Fabric is a bitch. There are no outlines in real life. Real life is not a cartoon, which this drawing class is teaching me.
And it’s hard.
When you’ve been using outlines since you were five, getting negative and positive space to work cohesively in your brain and then translate onto the sketchpad, is not easy. It’s not. It’s not meant to be, and that’s why I’m going to school. To learn how to do these things.
And yet, last night I almost threw my sketchbook across my room in frustration, came so close to crying, because I wasn’t perfect at something the first go around.
No one is perfect. We’re not born that way, we’re not made that way, it’s just not going to happen. No one likes a perfect person. That’s why there’s so much outrage with airbrushing, and photoshop, and the unrealistic standards of beauty set for both men and women by Hollywood and marketing managers.
That nasty little voice popped up in my head.
I’m no good.
I’ll never be good.
No one will ever want me as an artist.
I’ll never get to animate.
I’m a hack.
On and on and on. Same goes with writing. But with writing, there’s an editing process, and I’m ready to accept that because I can watch myself get better. I can change the writing at a whim and get better.
According to that little voice in my head, I should already be better because I’ve been drawing for so long.
It’s stupid. And pointless. And doesn’t do anyone any good.
Not self confidence, not progressing, nothing. Criticism can be harmful, and it can be the best thing in the world. What I get from my teachers and my fellow students, is helpful. What I do to myself, is not.
No one needs to be perfect. If we were perfect, we’d be boring.
No matter what you do in life, no one will ever be as hard on you, as you are on yourself.
So, stop being so hard on yourself. Stop hating because you’re not the perfect you see in the magazine, or because you haven’t attained the necessary skills in drawing, or D&D.
Haters gonna hate no matter what. But don’t let that hater be you.
No matter what you do in life, don’t be perfect.