And stop eating my chocolate.

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I remember, as a kid, cracking open a fresh box of crayons. The rainbow of intense colours. The smooth, identically molded shapes. The smell, even! Whatever my fingers created with those flawless tools would be a masterpiece. I couldn’t wait to start.

And if there had been a smooth, empty white page to go along with my crayons? Yesss! Beginnings! Possibilities! Room to create! This was anticipation.

Later, crisp lined notebooks replaced the newsprint and shiny Bic pens took the place of crayons (not surprisingly, I was one of those kids who adored shopping for school supplies). Drawing became less of an interest as language took its place.

And later still, the tools changed again: an electronic box displaying a virtual blank page on a screen. No utensils were required, except for my fingers to tap on the keyboard.

Somewhere along the line, though, something happened.

Doubt arrived. Specifically, Doubt’s more egocentric twin: Self-Doubt.

It didn’t happen all at once. Self-Doubt creeps, after all. It took years for me to even realize that Self-Doubt was not only living with me, but it was also eating all my chocolate and hogging the couch.

It’s not all bad, though. I think Self-Doubt’s a normal and necessary companion – we need to question ourselves and reflect on our choices to be capable of any sort of improvement.

But left unchecked, Self-Doubt’s a real party-pooper. “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt,” wrote the poet, Sylvia Plath.

Sometimes it whispers, sometimes it shouts.

It wonders why you’re bothering to write/paint/play the piano at all. You’re not even doing it right. There are a million other people writing/painting/piano playing better than you. What are people going to think when they read/look at/listen to what you’ve cobbled together? You’re making an idiot out of yourself. You’re just not good enough.

Etc.

And if you listen to this for long enough, the blank page/canvas/piano keys are no longer met with anticipation so much as with dread. What used to represent potential and possibility now looks a bit like the gaping, mocking, chocolate-smeared mouth of your constant companion, Self-Doubt. Then, eventually, you quit the idea of creating altogether and instead spend your time watching cat videos on YouTube.

So. What to do? I don’t really know. I’m still trying to figure it out. Step one is probably to stop watching cat videos. Step two might be the act of showing up. Every day.

Good night, then. I’ll be here tomorrow, crayons in hand.

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7 thoughts on “And stop eating my chocolate.

  1. This is a very interesting post for a few reasons. First – I have a daughter who is just a few years older than you and she has been actively exploring ways to revive her creativity and travel a new life path:
    https://thegoodlifelist.com/2016/07/28/book-launch-fruitless-at-40-rediscovering-my-creative-power/

    Second – while I have been a crafty person for most of my adult life, I have never thought of myself as an artist. Starting a blog was my incentive to not only write, but to use my camera for something other than photos of the family! Then, a silly little app on my ipad opened the door to drawing stickmen (who knew I could make them say so much!) Then I discovered Zentangles, and next thing I knew I had pens and paper in my life again!

    Self-doubt? Maybe at my age there just isn’t time for that anymore – sort of a now or maybe never kind of thing…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi. Thanks for stopping by. Sounds like your daughter’s journey is right up my alley. As for not having time for self-doubt… well, I hope I get there, too. I know others who are crippled by it and stay that way, which is a situation I hope to avoid! Happily you’ve stayed curious and willing to explore. Thanks for your thoughts!

      Like

  2. This is great. I love the imagery of opening a box of crayons and buying school supplies. And to show up is just what is needed. However, in my case there was no sneaking in: self-doubt was right there at the beginning, as soon as I picked up a crayon and attempted a dog and it just wouldn’t come. We learnt to get along much better with time, actually. And I’m quite sure it’s me who is stealing chocolate. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Ruffled. | Do What You Wish

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