Confidence is such a fragile thing. I find myself constantly trying to protect my children’s confidence and my own. Once it starts slipping, it’s hard to get it back. Things just start fall apart and then next thing you know you feel even worse about yourself.
|My Mama, the dance teacher|
I never realized how bad my confidence was until I registered to go back to college over 2 years ago. Some people don’t know this, but I actually registered my first quarter at SCAD as an undergrad. I didn’t think there was any way I could get into a graduate program.
After a few weeks of classes with 19-year-olds, I quickly learned that I needed to be with grown-ups. The transfer from undergrad to graduate course work was seamless on paper, but my confidence still sucked.
Most of the art-based classes in SCAD do something called “workshops.” That’s where we hang up our drawings on the wall or email everyone in the class a copy of our written work and sit back quietly in class while everyone talks about our work like we aren’t in the room.
For the first year of school, I dreaded workshops. Most of the time I couldn’t hear what others were saying about my work because the voice in my head was saying, “Oh my God, you suck. I can’t believe you let anyone see that. You don’t belong here!” My favorite mantra was, “You’re so stupid.”
Yes, it was sick. I can laugh about it now. I even got to where I would tell my peers about it and we would laugh hysterically. I guess part of being an artist is that constant self-deprecating feeling that everyone thinks you suck but you have to show the world what you created anyway. An most importantly, you have to pretend to be proud of it.
|My Daddy, the artist|
I still have that voice, but I ignore it. Well, I guess I should say I ignore it on good days. On bad days I just tell him “yes, I know I suck, but I have to get this done and submitted so I can get paid.”
Lately it has been even harder to ignore the voice. I can hear it when I look in the mirror to check my outfit before an interview, “Yuck, you look so old.” I can hear it when I get another rejection letter, “Yep, they hated you.”
But despite the constant rejection and the very low bank account, I feel like I have learned to live with the voice. It’s almost like I need it to stay fresh or to work harder. I need that voice trying to prove me wrong so I can say, “You were wrong.”
I’m worried right now, but I shouldn’t be. I still don’t have a full-time job and I have no new leads right now. By some miracle, I stumbled upon some great freelance opportunities that will keep me afloat until something bigger comes along.
I’m living the life that I said I never would live. I’m self-employed. And it scares the hell out of me.
I grew up in a house with two parents who were self-employed and I hated it. I hated that we never knew when someone would pay for dance classes or artwork. I hated the way people would tell us, “Sorry, I can’t pay for dance this month because I have to buy Christmas presents for my children.”
I wondered why they didn’t understand that if they don’t pay, then we had no money for Christmas presents. It made for a turbulent childhood of feast and famine—most of the time it was famine.
I wanted to go to college so I could find a job—a real job. Not a self-employed, artsy-fartsy kind of thing that promised money then made you sit and wait for it. I wanted something different from my childhood.
|Me, the writer|
But just like everything else in my life, I find myself drawn to a life that I swore I never wanted. I find myself more and more sympathetic to my parents and their choices every day. I find myself walking down a path in life that scares me but excites me at the same time.
I guess the reason I say I shouldn’t be worried right now is because I know that the harder I try to fight the natural progression of life, the more frustrated I become. So, instead of fighting back, I’m going to sit back and enjoy this ride for a little bit and see where it takes me. After all, it’s the only time the voice quits talking and right now I need all the self-confidence I can hold onto.