2020: fear, fumbling, failure & fortitude
It’s been a tough year so far - absolutely nothing like I expected. This year came with a whole lot of emotional blows and I let my myself get knocked back. I gave up for a little bit. I lost my confidence, I lost my vitality, and I lost my hope… for a bit.
The pandemic took all my plans and shot them to hell. And, like most people, I was left not knowing what to do. Fresh out of university, unemployed and living in lockdown. Wave your hand if you can relate?(Or don’t, because you’re too busy re-typing your CV while you read this.)
Also, did I mention I’m an artist? Don’t worry, I’m in the very fortunate position of having a partner who is willing to support me financially, so I’m not a ‘starving artist’. But, with art being one of the most luxurious things to buy in a time of pandemonium, I began to feel a bit unneeded, but then I would go on the internet and see all these artists and designers still out there doing their amazing things and making their usual money like we’re not in the middle of a GLOBAL CRISIS and well... I felt inferior, okay? I became terrified by the thought that maybe I just don’t have what it takes to succeed.
So, I stopped posting my art online. I didn’t know how to caption pictures anymore. I’d try and it would go something like this:
This is a beetle I drew. It made me think about how small I am and how no-one is going to see this and even if they do, what’s a little drawing of a beetle gonna help them anyway and what if this doesn’t get any likes, would that prove that no one wants my art and then when people see it and it doesn’t have any likes they’ll know I’m a failure and I’ll never get any work ever in my life and maybe I just won’t post this after all…
What’s more, social media is a place where everyone seems to be doing great… which makes you feel like crap for not doing great too. And when you feel like crap, you don’t want to post to social media because crap doesn’t belong on Instagram unless it’s a poop emoji.
So I just stopped going on social media at all. I only did things at home and applied for jobs in private messages and emails where I could be rejected quietly. I didn’t want to put myself all over the internet where I could be seen failing so publicly. That’s the funny thing about the internet. You’re afraid of failing because you won’t be seen in the massive sea of people, but you’re also afraid of being seen failing by that same sea of people.
So I ended up with art accumulating in my house instead of being out in public where it can be seen. Artists and their work often serve as motivation and inspiration for me, not only in my artistic practice, but in my everyday life. Art can give you hope. Art can take you away to different world and teach you to see things differently. Art can make you feel excited to be alive or urge you to continue fighting your battles.
I’m all for the ideal of ‘from each according to their capabilities to each according to their needs’. So a bunch of art gathering dust in my home doesn’t sit quite comfortably with me. Maybe my work can affect someone else the way that others’ art affects me. Maybe someone else wants my work or even needs my work. One post could be exactly what a stranger across the internet needs to see. Who am I to say that’s not possible?
So this is me publicly announcing that I am a failure. And that I’m going to carry on anyway and hold onto the hope that my work can do something for at least one person. And that means I’ve only failed a little bit.
If 2020 has sucked for you, please don’t give up. Don’t let your fears hold you back. Just keep doing what you do and giving it your best because someone might need you to. There might be someone out there who needs you to carry on. You can’t possibly understand the way that your actions ripple through the universe. Even if you fail, it’s possible that along the way you managed to change someone’s life.