Why Doubting Yourself As An Artist Is Actually The Devil

Lately I’ve been doing some spiritual repurposing; closing out my day with prayer, incorporating more gratitude into my interactions and generally trying to be more aware  of my footing in life.

And, as promised in the Good Book, it’s working out in my favor. Even if faith isn’t your thing, a moment or two of daily reflection can really anchor the chaos of the day-to-day. I’ve made an effort to invite more love and light into my spirit and, corny or not, it feels really, really good.

I can say with certainty that I have lived a charmed life. Obviously I’ve gone through the negative– nobody hasn’t– but all in all I see the steady and abundant blessings in my life as baffling. I’ve never been hungry, never fell to any sort of serious health problem, never laid my head to rest at night cold or completely alone. Beyond that, I just have so much. Friends, loved ones, experiences, possessions, opportunities, successes; if I were to write it all down, any reader would conclude I never have a reason to frown.

So why is it I am still so deeply insecure?

It’s my firm belief that talent is a God-given attribute. Even though it has been a long, convoluted self-dialogue in discovering it, there is a reason I don’t want to be a doctor or a lawyer or an athlete or a scientist. I was meant to be an artist, I was meant to create. After all that’s what I love to do. Writing, directing, media making– it all fills me to the brim with a joy that feels so distinctly me.

Yet, without fail, before I begin any creative venture, I am shackled by crippling self doubt. And I am sure, outwardly, this confession seems humble coming from a girl whose beach waves are never out of place. But the insecurity I speak of isn’t sporadic or mild or even shakable.

It’s hiding in bathrooms with pounding, anxious heartburn before events. It’s crying into the morning about my future as a creative. It’s the blaring red message FAILURE before I hit enter on a new blog article, submit a job application, or save a new screenplay. I constantly feel that anything I do will never be good enough.

It took ages to realize it, but these terrible, cruel thoughts about myself are my own personal forbidden fruits. That panic and that fear, albeit convincing, are simply not the truth. In fact, they are pure evil. And evil is giving me the simple option of not believing in myself; to take the easy way out and deny the richness of my abilities.

Mere explanation truly doesn’t shape the experience properly. The only real advice I am able to give is this: you have to walk through life like you’re the shit. There have been times I felt like the most worthless person in the room, wishing I could disintegrate into the floorboards. But running and hiding is not a feasible option forever.

You have to stand up straight and find it within yourself, even if you have to scrape. Be courageous enough to stare that venomous beast in the eyes and deny it any power over your mind. Art is passion expressed; often as vulnerable as ripping your heart out of your own chest. It’s scary to share those parts with the world, but it’s the same passion that can protect you from insecurity.

Fake confidence as much as you need until you have unwavering belief in your work– your music, your blog, your novel, your portfolio– who you are as an artist.

When asked his advice for aspiring musicians, Kendrick Lamar shared a very simple message at the Grammy’s Red Carpet last year: “Put God first and put the work in.” I think about that mantra almost every day. Do your best and have faith in your best. It’s your purpose. The rest is just noise.

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