digital illustrationIt’s especially nice, when I’ve caught myself wallowing in self-denigration and insecurity for a bit, to think on those things that actually, really, truly are pretty darn good about me. It’s no sin to appreciate the gifts we’ve been given, and their relative smallness in comparison to others’, as there are always people for whom we have [possibly unwarranted] adulation as exemplars of all those things we long to be, is irrelevant. Safe to say that every one of those great and mighty high achievers has some hidden insecurity and certainly, all have imperfections. Our inability to see those reflects more on our own worries and wishes than on who anyone else genuinely is.

So I go off looking at the astonishingly skillful artistry of others and am ashamed at how little I’ve accomplished in my artistic life thus far and feel inadequate and cheap, and sulk for a moment or two, and then I need to pick up my tools and get back to work and remember that I do this, to be fair, for the love and joy of doing it, not because I need to impress somebody. And I remind myself that despite my ordinariness, I am in my own way new and improved in comparison to where I started my artistic journey.

The same holds true for looking at others’ writing, cooking, gardening, housekeeping, home decorating, DIY projects, you name it. If there’s anything I do that I wish I were better at doing—and anything worth doing is worth getting better at doing, no?—the reason I have such a wish is that I know I’m far from the best, and I can only know how far I am from the best if there are others leading me there by example. In fairness to my meager position in the relative scheme of things, I need to recognize that most experts spent a tremendous amount of time and energy becoming the avatars that they are, that if I did think I were nearly perfect at anything it would be foolish and delusional and hubristic and, well, tiresome, and that I do improve over time, if not quite at the rate I would fondly hope I could.

This is not a pity party for Poor Little Me, lest you be misled by my maundering start: it’s a self-reminder that I am very fortunate, and yes, a little bit gifted, too. My gifts may not be the kind that were evident from my birth and improved exponentially over a shining, prodigious span of growth and productivity and marvelous output. But incremental growth and modest gifts can be celebrated, too, and since I have no need for fame or (however pleasing I may find the idea of it) wealth, it matters none whether anyone else celebrates them. That they do, and indeed, tell me so, is a kindness and brings the kind of wealth and fame that have a far greater value than the more worldly sort, when I accept them wholeheartedly.

I know I’m not the greatest of or at anything. But I like who and what I am and think I’m on a slow upward incline regarding what I do, and that’s reason enough to hold up my chin and puff out my chest a little and march on forward with a smile on my face and my head held high. I’ll bet you could do it, too, even if you merely do so by letting yourself believe what the people who love and respect you tell you. They don’t love and respect and admire you for no reason at all, and who are you to question your admirers’ integrity! Go ahead, own up to being the new and improved you. Preen a little. You deserve it.

15 thoughts on “Struttin’

  1. Oh, that is a great post. I spent many years hiding from this and that because I wasn’t good enough, others were so much better. The years have gone by now and I have come to realise I am ok, worthy of a lot. I do preen a little and I am comfortable with what I cannot do in any great manner but do it anyway because I am me. The most important thing I have learnt in life is to look on the bright side and love yourself without being bombastic. (I never quite understood the middle ground.)
    I also found it almost impossible to say ‘thank you’ when someone paid me a compliment, my standard answer was ‘Oh, its nothing or It’s not that good” Now a smile spreads across my face and a genuine ‘thank you’ comes out.

    • You, my dear, *get* it. I am so glad this spoke to you, too. It’s a fairly common question of self-perception, to be sure, but I gather that it’s particularly pointed among those of us who are artistic in our leanings, perhaps because there’s the constant sense of needing to explain, defend, justify or excuse being a little ‘different’ in that way! 🙂

  2. You keep preening too Kathryn because what you produce art wise and in your writing is just fabulous and I am learning from you!!

    This is such an encouraging post because I am among the the world’s worst for dragging myself down. I cant work out how, and don’t really need to, it has taken a very debilitating progressive condition to put myself and all my “wares” out there without great fear. There is still small fear but it is outweighed by the enjoyment of sharing my “stuff” and learning from others. Everything I have ever done in the past has had an addendum which said this must impress “them” or it is worth nothing. I can see now what convoluted thinking this is. I even drew an oil pastel sunset with Tree yesterday and splashed it all over facebook! I dont care anymore. What I am prepared to do is learn and enjoy the process. 😊

    Thank you for making me think as always. Xx

    • I’m so thrilled you are finding increased courage to be yourself and embrace your desire to try new things without second-guessing their value. It’s a great gift, and hard won for many of us. I’m no stranger to self-deprecation, and have to be careful at times to think whether it’s insecurity talking or a sort of passive-aggressive way to fish for compliments or reassurances—or, if it’s truly feeling inadequate, whether I’m judging myself unfairly after all. Nobody’s perfect, and if I’m willing to concede that as a baseline for others, why not for myself? You, Christine, are an amazing, impressive, smart, tender, well-spoken (-written) and gracious person, and you should feel quite safe in accepting that others can recognize these qualities in you!

  3. There are so many reasons to love and admire and respect you, Kathryn – for you are true to yourself, are a visionary and wonderfully warm and generous person with an extraordinary spirit! Now – keep on strutting in your own inimitable way! XO ♥

    • Gosh, I can feel my very soul inflating when you talk like that! ((Blushing gratefully!)) Thank you, my sweet. I would say exactly the same of you, and couldn’t say it better or more generously.

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