This quote in the newly decorated intern office at the In a New Light gallery perfectly sums up one of the biggest challenges that artists face: the fear of failure. The arts involve breaking outside of what is expected, unleashing one’s imagination, and expressing deep emotion. Displaying your artistic work for the world to see puts yourself on display and invites criticism. What if the world doesn’t like what they see? What then?
This question stops most people from reaching their full creative potential. They do what they think is expected in order to avoid judgement and failure. They keep their imaginations bottled up inside and they become their own harshest critics. They procrastinate. They convince themselves that they have no talent, that they are worthless, and that their ideas are stupid, unoriginal, or embarrassing. This internal fear of failure grows within people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences. The girls of Northwest Passage III are no exception.
I have worked with the young ladies at Passage over the last two months, and I have been awestruck by the talent within each of them. During their time in treatment, they develop unique styles of capturing natural beauty, mastering the tools of light, subject, and composition. They create emotionally compelling narratives behind their work, and add deep layers meaning to their art. Yet, like all emerging artists, these photographers are overcoming their fears of failure. For many of them, failure feels like a defining feature of life. They have been shunned by society time and again, and have struggled to measure up to the strict standards of our perfectionistic culture. Depression, low-self esteem, and unstable relationships can often intensify universal fears of judgement, vulnerability, and abandonment. Instead of letting these things stop them, these girls fearlessly fight. Over time, they discover that their past can be used for inspiration, not to denigration. They realize that their creativity is something to be proud of, and not hidden. Most importantly, they discover that other people are not there to criticize, but to encourage. It has been such a pleasure to be one of those encouragers along the way.
Here are some of my favorite examples of the girls of Northwest Passage III not only overcoming a fear of failure, but triumphing.
This is my photo just like this is my life. I am surrounded by conflicting feelings and thoughts. I feel people see what they want to. That is fine I guess but I don’t feel anything with this photo. I feel as though it is a mistake. At first glance it may be pretty. I want you to look closer and see all the faults with it. I do not find it beautiful or even interesting. To me it is ugly and I know people will see it for what they want to see it as. It is kind of like taking a person at face value, they may seem great until you peel back the layers. So I ask you, peel away the layers. Feel what ever emotion rawly and intensely that this photo brings you. If you are going to feel it don’t bury it, feel it. You obviously like this for a reason. Let it speak to you, let it whisper in your ear. Tell me what you hear.
What do you see when
you look at yourself?
What do you see when
you look at someone else?
Some tend to first see their own imperfections,
and jealousy soon grows,
followed by self-destruction.
Next time you see yourself,
look, look, look,
and you just might see someone else,
another version of you.
The true you, not something distorted by magazines, models, and make up.
I love that you,
and I know some day you can too.
Black and White
We rather choose beauty because we are afraid to take a risk because we fear that others will judge us. Why do we crave the need to be accepted and fear the result of other declining our choices? Do you ever realize the amount of decisions you are able to make but choose to make the one that others want you to choose even if you don’t completely agree?