It is a truth so axiomatic that it almost goes without saying; almost, but I’ll say it: artists, creative types, are among the most neurotic people I know. And I should know: I’m one of them (is that egotistical to say?).
Therein lies the rub, for what other group of people is there that simultaneously wants to be recognized for their talent(s) while yet feeling extremely bad about being so recognized? Not only that, but we creatives are an insanely jealous lot, given heavily to the sin of comparison. “I wish I could write like…”
There is a great tension that we live in: between feeling–knowing–we have something to say (whether it be written, painted, sculpted, photographed), and doubting the voice with which we say it. There is a tremendous vulnerability here, in self-expression, that leaves us open to these plaguing self-doubts. “How will I be received?” “How will I be perceived?”
In writing this, I feel somewhat like a magician giving up trade secrets, but this I know of a certainty: especially as pertains to creative type work, the ego is so bound up in the work that there is an almost inevitable juxtaposition that occurs, where the lines between the self and the work overlap, blur, become (in our minds) indistinguishable.
And that, I think, is what distinguishes the pro from the amateur: the ability to divorce one’s ego from the work, to take rejection in stride. To realize it’s not necessarily a rejection of the self, but of the work. And that there is more, and better, work ahead.
This is a hard fought battle, one with which I struggle everyday. And I think even more so because I am a Christian. Those reading who are of similar faith will understand. What I mean is that we flog it pretty hard, day-in-and-day-out, trying to get noticed (or our work noticed) and then feel bad for drawing attention to ourselves. There is a particular guilt there that feeds the neuroses mentioned above. We think “where is the humility in drawing this attention to myself?”
It doesn’t have to be this way. We–I–need to embrace the fact that God gave us certain talents, skills, abilities, the exercise of which brings Him glory, honor, and dare I say, pleasure. He put the desire to create there. Embrace it. Be the conduit who, while seemingly drawing attention to the self, is truly pointing others to God. It’s a delicate balance, but it can be done.
I leave you with this: the secret to conquering pride is to be just as proud of another’s work as we are of our own. Of course this requires dying to ourselves everyday.