As someone firmly planted in the "middle age", I can quite honestly say that I have confidence in my creative abilities. But the journey to get there has not been easy. Often there are knocks along the way that set back your confidence or you take on new creative challenges that make you feel like a beginner all over again before you find your mojo. In this BLOG I am simply sharing some of my key learnings in the hope of inspiring you to look inwards and find your confidence.
We are already our own worst critics. So when we get feedback from others, we need to be mindful of how that impacts our confidence. What we do as artists and artsworkers by its very nature invites feedback. Feedback is wonderful when it is delivered the right way. It isn't always. One of the greatest skills I have learned over the years is to be gracious when receiving feedback, but walk away analysing what the intention of the feedback was and based on that - either take it onboard or discard it.
Your gut instincts will tell you whether or not someone is "qualified" to give that feedback - someone who is genuinely interested in you and your career, someone who wants to see you grow, someone that has some relevant experience. The "unqualified" feedback is usually delivered by someone who has no reference point from their experience to be able to give you valid feedback or someone who might have an agenda. It takes time to find it within you to be able to separate these groups of people but once you get to that point, it is certainly a great tool to remove those anxious moments and take on board those things that will help your career to grow.
If you are an artist that enters art prizes, auditions for a part, pitches for funding or wants to exhibit at a gallery; then at some stage you are likely to receive a "rejection". We've all experienced it. Quite simply, the arts doesn't have enough stage shows, funding to go around or exhibition spaces to fulfil all of our needs so there needs to be measured selection processes. If you get an "unfortunately you have been unsuccessful at this time" email, follow it up and use that feedback to improve your pitch. Maybe it's just the wrong timing. Maybe it's not what they were looking for. Learn from it and take it on board - but don't let it rattle your confidence for more than those few hours of the initial rejection letter! There will always be another opportunity for you.
Comparing your work to that of others doesn't help you. Some people get hung up on social media looking at the amazing work of others and feeling that they don't live up to that standard. Remember that social media is the place where we post about the best of us. That person you are comparing yourself to has probably already been on a journey that they haven't shared to get to that successfully resolved work. Use social media as a tool for inspiration and knowing what is happening in your sector. Celebrate the achievements of others and help put fellow artists up on their confidence pedestal rather than feeling like you have a long way to go!
Build your network of supporters. I don't mean a social media following - I mean like-minded people that you can sit down with over a coffee who get you and your practice. These are the people that you feel energised by because conversations spark your imagination. Find those people and keep them close.
Ultimately - we TRY AND TRY AGAIN. We do need to learn when change tack or abandon one idea for another. But the more you put yourself out there, the more experience you gain and the better your confidence will be. Just have self awareness and a band of supporters to help you reach your goals with your confidence intact.
The Ideas Distillery