That pit in your stomach?
That anxiety that twinges whenever you share art with the world, place it on a pedestal where people can applaud it (or throw rotten fruit at it)?
That fear that strikes you when you when you do something that matters?
That’s here to stay.
If you’re an artist who has gotten rid of the doubt completely, I’d like to hear from you: I haven’t met one yet.
As an artist, you’re doing something different than the average manuel worker: you’re sharing more of yourself.
See, as a McDonald’s employee, you’re putting your hamburger-flipping skills in the public eye: you’re risking very little. As a plumber, you’re putting your ability to turn a wrench on the line: if you’re found wanting in that regard, you simply take the ego bruising and instead become a house cleaner, a chiropractor, or a forklift operator. You risk little, and little is lost when it’s found that you’re terrible at what you do.
The artist is in a different predicament: we’re not just putting out skill as an artist on the line: we’re putting out soul on the line. If you care about your art, the fear will be there. Technical skill is being tested, but so are your beliefs, your views, your heart. You’re making yourself vulnerable, and you’re asking others to not sucker-punch you.
But some will.
And you might never be completely able to let you guard down, to let go of the doubt.
This doesn’t just apply to artists who dip a paintbrush: if plumbing is your art, if you work hard to excel, to give people more than they pay you for, if you strive to connect in your own way with the people who hire you, you’re giving then the opportunity to strike you where it hurts. You’re offering your gift, your art to them, and asking them to accept it.
Some people won’t, and it hurts. Sometimes the doubt will grow.
Don’t give up your art because of the doubt. Embrace the fact that the doubt will be there, in some form.
Be comforted: that pit in your stomach is evidence that you’re doing something that matters.