The most terrifying yet valuable thing I did today

Putting yourself up for review can be anxiety inducing. The fear that comes along with allowing yourself to be critiqued only intensifies if the assessment is in an unfamiliar area. Today I not only accepted, but requested, a fellow artist to share her reactions to my show. Asking for that feedback is the bravest and scariest thing I’ve done in a long while.

While the majority of comments I received were positive, the more critical thoughts have set root in my brain. It’s a truism that we as people tend to hear criticism more loudly than praise. Perhaps the most personally frustrating part of the identified areas on which I could improve is that they’re largely from times I decided to take a short cut. It is, perhaps, more surprising to me than it should be that a seasoned artist so readily picked up on moments when I gave into my more slothful impulses. I can see why some aspects of the show were not as strong as they could have been and knowing that someone else came to the same conclusion gives a vulnerable feeling.

Part of my discomfort in sitting with the requested feedback is that I don’t yet consider myself an artist. It would be more accurate to say that I struggle with considering myself an artist. I accept that I make art, but the thought of calling myself “an artist” is intimidating. Once you identify yourself as something you’re opened to critique of your performance in that area. It feels safer to be able to brush off any feedback by denying that I am an artist; if I’m not a professional then I can’t be held to professional standards. Ironically, if I’ve hesitated to call myself an artist because I fear others would view me as one, my review request today may have been a critical step in becoming an artist afterall.

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