failure in stuff you're supposed to be good at
hello everyone! happy summer!!!
I am trying to be better about following through on personal projects that I set out for myself, and one of these was to write about the photo shoot I did a little while back, and talk about where this year has taken me creatively. This is mostly for myself, to reflect on the challenges this year brought, and to celebrate the things that worked, but I thought it might be helpful for anyone interested in reading, going through a similar thing. now that school is out and I effectively have no more excuses as to why I should put this off longer, I figured today was the perfect day to finally do it!
this year was definitely one of the more challenging ones, in terms of creativity. I've spent a lot of time speculating about why this was the case, and have narrowed it down to a couple of things that all sort of tie in together. the first is social media.
social media is obviously a hot topic in pretty much any space you enter, and the creative realm is no exception. whether you're scrolling through your Instagram, or browsing Pinterest, or Cargo, or someone else's website, the instantaneous bombardment of content that you are met with can be overwhelming at times. and while you're entirely aware of the fact that comparison is petty and absolutely kills, there's a small part of you that wonders why you hadn't thought of that idea first. or at least, that was the case for me this year. I've known that I would like to pursue something within the arts since I was young; my parents were always incredibly supportive of my desire to pursue the arts, sticking me in painting classes as soon as I could write, and sending me to an arts high school (actually against my will due to a classic case of teen angst and not wanting to be a new kid, although I must... begrudgingly say... I am.... thankful... to them.. pls don't show them this or I might never live it down) and so I always felt like I could do really anything I wanted, and had a healthy friendship with my own creativity. but anyways, back to social media, this year, I was confronted with the fact that my relationship to my creativity was souring a bit, as a result of my own junk with social media. Every time I'd open my Instagram page, I would immediately become inundated with the sense that I was not producing enough work, not generating enough ideas, not trying enough new things and thus, not receiving engagement; just overall, not doing enough. I would feel almost fraudulent posting something on my page from a few months ago, knowing that I was just filling space so that I wouldn't feel like I wasn't really making anything I liked. coupled with already having anxiety WEEEEE, this was a vicious and unending cycle. I would feel guilty then, for being on social media when I could be making something, or learning something new, or just fixing the situation in general, but there was this fear that had cropped up in me, because what if I failed, or didn't like what I made, or worked hard and still didn't end up with the result I had in mind?
which leads me to the second discovery on the journey of how-lauren's-relationship-to-creativity-kind-of-got-the-best-of-her-2017-to-part-of-2018- not just a fear of, but a deep dreading of failure. this was a weird realization, because I had never really considered myself someone afraid of failure, and my family had never negatively portrayed failure; in fact, my mom has historically been the queen of handing out those "failure is what helps you learn" quotes to my sister and me. so most of this, I realized, was self-inflicted. I didn't want to disappoint anyone, or myself, despite knowing full well that no one would even care, or thought about this even a third as much as I did. so I found myself feeling almost claustrophobic in my creative process, staying inside of the lines of what I knew I was capable of, and not letting myself experiment with something else. I would get an idea, feel that really awesome fuzzy feeling you get when you think you might be on to something, and then immediately deflate because I would feel like it had either already been done, or wasn't good enough. it was as gross as it sounds!
so when may rolled around, and I got the assignment to do a self-directed shoot, I was incredibly anxious. I had a very set idea in mind, the first "good" one in my opinion in months, and I wanted it to be perfect, but I was already starting to feel that sinking feeling questioning whether I could pull it off or not. I had art directed and shot before, but never out of a studio, so the nerves were high.
it was really janky in general, the set up wasn't as tall as I had hoped it'd be, and the clothes were sort of dragging the line down, so it was even shorter than when it was first set up. the sky was cloudy, which normally is great for photos, but I had envisioned blue, and clouds (@dallas Raines LIED!) the grass was this kind of burnt, dead color, and I could already tell it'd be tough to edit. the location was not entirely ideal. but I decided to shrug it off and try just go with it, because I didn't really have a choice anyways, and an assignment was an assignment. it felt like a disaster in the making, but I had already called my friends over to help, and I wanted them to feel like everything was running smoothly (lol hello Papi, Bella, and Vicks, now I can say I was freeeaakkkiinnngg out a little!)
but as I started shooting, I felt the anxiety and pressure begin to melt away, and that familiar groove of actually enjoying something you're making, and doing something you believe in came flying back. it was like my brain switched off for a little bit, and all of the negative voices that normally spoke so loud had finally calmed down enough so that I could clearly see what I was doing, and allow myself to be satisfied with and even *GASP* excited about this concept. it was QUITE nice.
so anyways, all of this to say, this photoshoot represented a lot for me (ALSO note the blue sky, forgive me @dallas Raines, I knew not what I spoke of). it released a lot of anxiety and fear I had been harboring throughout the year, and reminded me of what I am capable of. this shoot was slightly out of my comfort zone, just enough to make me squirm, but I'm grateful for that, because it showed me that even with little hiccups, things can very much turn out okay. it reminded me that, contrary to social media, it is completely alright to not be a factory for ideas at all times; that even having one, or two great ideas a year is just fine, and does not mean you should start looking for alternate career options. it showed me that you can be satisfied with an idea; you don't always have to assume there is something better floating around. sometimes what you're thinking about right now is the best you can at that moment, and that is not significant of failing, or not being good enough, that is just where you are. I am not saying to not push yourself, but I am saying that it is okay to be satisfied with your work, while maintaining goals and aspirations. and lastly, it reminded me that failing is pretty inevitable, so you might as well make peace with it and try (TRY, obviously it still sucks and that is valid) to maintain a healthy relationship to it.
so, if you feel or have felt something similar, I encourage you to be patient with yourself. this is something I still struggle, doooon't get it twisted, last week I had a baby meltdown (sorry @brooke) and was feeling overwhelmed again, but then I remembered that I am still navigating this whole thing, and that I owe it to myself to be patient. because I know that what I make is some of me, not all of me; it is not a measure of all of me.
if you somehow made it to the end of this, congrats but also wut! thank you for reading! I am always down to talk about stuff like this, so please feel free to reach out. (:
(BIG UPS to alyssa, bella, and vickie, firstly for being my most lovely friends in general, but also for so quickly jumping on board with little to no idea of what was happening, and being so beautiful and talented and graceful as always. you guys were such a big part of what helped me remember, and I am so grateful for friends like you. also, thank you to my family and friends who let me talk at them so many times about this subject, and for the encouragement and love you show me every day!)