As a struggling human, I need humility. I need a gut check ever now and then to remind me that it’s not about me. I am not the center of the universe. My work is not at the center of the universe. But at the same time, I need to be confident in my work and in what I’m making.
Artists have to be insecure and confident at the same time. We need to be humble and reckless. Humble knowing that it’s not about us. And reckless in creativity. Reckless in our making. What we don’t need is to be arrogant. But it’s something I know I’ve been. Not overtly. But in my own head, which means my own heart, which is even worse.
Smugness is unattractive. So is arrogance. I think as artists we need to embrace more humility for the sake of awareness. Because we get so lost in the intense personal dialogue with what we make we forget how our words (and thoughts) impact people. We need to become awake and aware of our actions in real-time. It’s unintentional. I get that. But intention doesn’t matter when it comes to how you make people feel.
So if you’re wondering if I have it all together, let me do a routine gut check on myself in front of you:
I do not have it all together.
Sometimes it’s hard to wake up and get going even though I know there’s work to do.
I don’t always know what to write and most times I doubt that what I write will reach people or help people.
Sometimes I compare my photography work to other people’s work and wonder what the hell I’m doing.
I replay conversations in my head and agonize over something I said that may have been wrong.
(I could do this all day but I think you get the point.)
I have not reached that magic point yet where I feel completely sure about where I’m headed. And knowing what I know about humans, I don’t think anybody ever has, which means I never will either. But that doesn’t mean that I stop trying. That doesn’t mean I stop waking up and staring at a blank screen or going to every shoot and making good work. Because the work is not about me, I don’t get to use my insecurities as an excuse to stop contributing. That would be the most arrogant thing I could ever do.
Embrace humility today. Embrace recklessness in your making but not at the expense of others. Your personal dialogue with what you make needs to be honest and reckless. You can’t hold back but realize that we can’t live there either. Interacting with the world is different than interacting with your work. Accept your insecurities but don’t put up a wall of arrogance to protect them.