I found out yesterday that my jewelry was not accepted for the Richmond Craft Mafia's Spring Bada-Bing craft show. As I read the email, my heart sank, my cheeks flushed, and my internal critic instantly chimed in: How could I have thought my work was good enough? What was I thinking? I won't try *that* again. I felt embarrassed and foolish for even having submitted my work for consideration.
And then I stopped myself. I brought to mind the reasons why I submitted my application in the first place: to courageously practice sharing a little bit of myself with the world, something my shy and self-conscious nature vehemently resists. And then, despite my disappointment, I realized that I had accomplished what I set out to do. I acknowledged what a tremendous feat it had been just to simply apply, and I silently congratulated myself on my success.
Throughout the day, I returned to the conversation I had with my coach during our last session. I shared with her that since I had submitted my application for the show, I hadn't really worked on any new pieces. In fact, I hadn't even pulled up the stool to my worktable. Not once. We talked through several possibilities: I had been really involved in writing my essay for Richmond Magazine - I had been so focused on creating pieces for the past couple of weeks that I was ready for the break - that I was allowing my creative energy to be stifled by the possibility of rejection.
Honestly, I think it was a combination of all of these factors. But the one that concerns me the most is the last one. By "putting myself out there," I added another variable into my creative process. For the past few months, I have found energy from the simple act of creating. I had not been trying to impress anyone or win approval or even involve anyone else at all. It was a private affair, a love affair really, and I felt safe and content in my cocoon, basking in the warmth of the energy I was creating and sustaining.
I wonder what it is about my creative journey that has brought me to the place where I want to share it with others, where gaining the approval of others has become more important. Is it that part of seeing myself in a new way - as a creative person - involves others seeing me in that way as well?
Last night, as I continued to process my feelings on this, I thought of a post written by my friend Jim when he realized that his photographs weren't selected for a photo contest he entered through Virginia Wildlife magazine. I felt drawn to return to his post, sure that I would find comfort in our shared feelings. As I reread his words, I found out that we did share some of the same feelings. But I also noticed that in some ways, we reacted very differently. When Jim described his reaction to receiving notice, he wrote, "I was angry. For a few seconds, everything that blazed through my mind was stupid. Stupid magazine. Stupid competition." I thought back to how I reacted, and I was aware that while Jim's thoughts were focused on the external - the magazine and the contest - mine immediately went to my shortcomings as being responsible for my work not being accepted.
Now, I'm curious as to how others deal with these type of situations. As for me, I know there are many more opportunities awaiting me where I will grow stronger and become more comfortable in my own skin.