Creative jealousy and insecurity.

Two incredibly creative and wonderful women inspired me in unexpected ways last week. First, I loved Stephanie Howell’s post about who she is as a scrapbooker, and why she’s ok with that. Then Ali Edwards sent out a creative lift for the week via email that was all about, well, creative insecurity.  Which actually hit on point with some stuff I’ve been up to and thinking about, eerily so actually.

I let them both know that I loved what they shared, and shared a bit of myself with them as well. Which then got me thinking about somehow blogging about this creative insecurity and self confidence stuff and all that… and here we are.

First I want to address something: Creative jealousy and insecurity.

It happens to the best of us. When it does, it can be pretty ugly. Here are my thoughts.

I’m really freaking good at being me. I stink at being anyone else, so I’m not even going to try. When I create anything from a project to share in a class to something just for fun to a commissioned project, I have one rule: enjoy the process.

I think about what *I* want to do, what *I* think is fun and cool and what direction I feel like going in and I cut loose.

Every. Time.

Why? Well, when I’m over thinking things or worrying about what ___ will think or if it’ll be as good as ___’s work… whatever I make is crap. I figured it out a few years back when I was trying SO VERY HARD – that it was in fact the trying hard that was messing me up. I was thinking so much that I left no spontaneity, no creative spark, no room for imagination or play.

Please don’t misunderstand- I make some spectacularly UGLY pieces too! I make mistakes, and I have to work long and hard hours in my studio. I’ve spent thousands of hours over the last decade in this very room that I’m typing in now. Crafting is a skill, the more time you put in the more fun it can get.

The thing is, I don’t fear the ugly. I embrace it. Shrug it off. Learn from it. Start over. Go another direction. I also embrace the fear of looking like a fool. Have you met me? I am just me. A book loving, silly, picky, pain in the ass woman with very specific ideas on what I want. Oh sometimes those ideas change but the point is I’ve got opinions. Vision.  And dare I say it… confidence.

So what do I do when I get smacked with the jealousy stick? Whacked with insecurity? Oh, it happens. In fact it happened very recently when I saw a project that was SO AMAZING I questioned my whole existence and reason for crafting for a few minutes until I decided to track down the creator and gush on her awesomeness. Thing is? The other person or people are so not out to get you or make you feel bad about yourself!! So you can’t let that get you. When it hits, I’ve got two things to do, and I’m going to share them both with you now.

1. I try to break down the roots and figure out what is bothering me. Do I wish I did more mixed media work? Am I in a layout rut? Have I not put energy into new ideas? Or am I feeling bad about me for no good reason, and the truth is just I really like what this other person is doing? I break it down as best as I can and dismiss it or take it as a lesson to be learned. Then I get into my studio asap and create something. Play. Be True. Real. Take the energy and make something positive with it. Find a way to let those feelings help me grow creatively.

2. I tell the person I’m envious of that I think they rock. That what they’re doing is amazing and how talented they are. To be honest I do this jealousy or not – I am a huge believer in being uplifting to those who share creatively. Saying to people “I like what you do. Here is why.”  It is something that I do often. Sending encouragement and uplifting thoughts to someone else, NOT focusing on poor me… well that does indeed help.

In my experience the happiest people I know are those who allow happiness in and who want to see others happy as well. Who don’t feed and let fester the negative that we all have. It’s not all sunshine and roses here- but I don’t have to fuel negative fires either. I can focus on the good, my gifts, my blessings. I can also follow my heart and do my best to be one of the happy people vs one of those negative people who always want to be down about something – and that have an excuse for everything.

That’s today’s piece. Next week I will share about my big dark shameful secret that is the sum of all my failures as a crafter and human… and the chronicles (blog series) that will begin from that revelation…

I wish you happy crafting, and I encourage you to go out and send some happy emails to creative people who inspire you just because.

34 thoughts on “Creative jealousy and insecurity.”

  1. A we say in Spain ¡¡OLÉ!! 🙂 I’ve loved reading this post, and must tell you something: YOU ARE AMAZING. That’s why I always sing up for your classes.
    I love being me too 🙂 And I agree with all that you’ve written.
    A big hug from Spain 🙂

  2. What a meaningful post. Thank you for publishing your thoughts and feelings. Is it okay if I print this to display in my craft room as a reminder when I’m in a creative funk? Thanks. So glad I recently found your inspiring site via a Mario tweet.

  3. Such a great post. I totally get it, and it’s hard because there are so many AMAZINGLY talented people out there…including you! I sometimes get a bit down that what I do doesn’t measure up, isn’t recognized, etc., but in many ways I create for myself, because it expresses me, and we’re all made to create, and I have to remember that if I’m doing it for myself, it really doesn’t matter what else is out there or what others are doing, because they are doing it for themselves too. I also try and leave comments/love for others, sometimes it’s hard because of the press of time, but I am quite sure that those you are interacting with appreciate it. Keep it up!

  4. May- from day one it has been your honesty and openess plus awesome creativity that had me following your blog. Thanks for all you do.

  5. Fabulous, right on target (as always) post. You are an inspiration to me. I love your creative work. I love your approach to teaching. Most of all, I love the fact that you keep it real. I have been on my own creative journey and at times have been plagued by the same insecurity etc that you have described here. Every day is a lesson in letting it all go. I am tons better for it. I don’t know that I’ll ever completely get rid of comparing my work to others, but that’s okay. Sometimes a bit of insecurity or jealously is a good thing. It motivates me to explore and expand what it is that I am doing—as a result, I grow.
    Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for putting that out there…so much of what you wrote, I feel like too!! Surprisingly, not the negative, insecure parts…but the happy sunshiny part. I make crap pages all of the time. .but I never let it bring me down. However, the awesome pages I live build me up. Plus, I try to spread as much live around as I can!! Everyone needs encouragement. 🙂

  7. Wow, we’re going to use this in our next This Week in Scrapbooking, because it’s so awesome.

  8. Dear May–appreciate what you have said. It is always about attitude! If you are heading in a postive rather than negative direction you will always be better off. I look forward to further philisophical renderings from you (along with your creative ones too!).

  9. Thank you for sharing your struggles with creativity. I appreciate your honesty and how you approach this issue. It gives me more incentive to keep doing what I love.

  10. Wonderful post. Thanks for sharing. When I feel inadequate with my crafting skills, I take a few minutes out to make entries in my gratitude journal. I think it always helps to appreciate those things that are going right.

  11. Right on sister! Seriously, this spills over into other things for me too, not just crafting… Just knowing we are not alone helps us ride out the feelings. And I agree with you about sending love in other people’s direction for their creative endeavors. You are absolutely fantastic in doing this for us in your classes! I am trying very hard to comment in a meaningful, affirming way on as much as I can in various galleries. It feels good and it comes back to me in spades. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward to the series!

  12. The day I started following your blog–I started creating differently!!! I look at things differently!! I realize it’s ok to be myself and this posting truly speaks volumes to many of us— thank ou!!!

  13. Oh May! This is exactly why I adore you, and why I will always do whatever I can to take any class you offer. You are so truly YOU! You uplift and inspire, and you teach authenticity. Thank you for setting such a great example, and reminding me that as Dr. Seuss said “Today you are YOU, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

  14. Glad to know you struggle with this too; I know I do. I love what you create so it is encouraging to know you create project you don’t like sometimes too.

  15. Wow, this is an amazing post! I love that you put into words what so many people feel, but won’t admit. We tend to want people to see us in a good light, so we only share our best side. Thank you for being candid and honest. This article has helped me a lot. 🙂

  16. Bravo may! Yanno, more ppl. actually express this to me through either being followers or ppl. that have admired my creations in the past. I’ve had to say ME??! what’s so special about it? LOL They go on to say that they don’t feel like they measure up. What do I say to them? ALL creations are beautiful! and that’s the truth. b/c if you think about it…look how hard they’re trying to get it “just right”. I NEVER put someone’s work down or criticize and you know why? Because EVERYONE and I do mean everyone has had to start SOMEWHERE. It’s scary when you first share a creation whether it be through online forums, social groups or blogs. But, the thing is as a creative person, your taking the initiative to say “I believe in myself and my work is good enough.” I had to convince myself of that of course. Especially when I was on design teams but, your absolutely right. The only way to build confidence IMHO, is through trial and error. No other way to say it. I have kept some of my early creations and look back on them to remind myself that’s where I started. They are still beautiful to me b/c I know how much time and devotion each creation took. Thank you for writing this article and validating others that feel the same way. You go sistah!!

  17. I read this post early this morning and it has stuck with me all day. Thanks for being the creative YOU you are and sharing it with us.

  18. I saved Ali’s e-mail when I got it and keep reading it over and over.Lots of food for thought in it and your article.I wrestle unsuccessfully with the insecurity all the time.And it certainly does spill over into other areas of my life.But leaving love for all the beautiful creations that wonderful people like you and so many others share with us-not a problem.I love seeing it all-it quite often it touches my heart and moves my spirit.Most days-that’s enough for me.

  19. Oh May, when reading this it felt that you were writing about me. This year has been a tough one but I can say if anyone has inspired me to create more, learn new things and enjoy the journey, it’s you!! I appreciate you so much and thank you from the bottom of my heart and I enjoy each and everyone of your classes on BPC. I enjoy all the videos and the awesomeness of the things you come up with and do. Thank you so much! I look forward to continuing on this journey with you.

  20. I always feel like that and end up giving up on my projects or wondering what I should do next
    thanks, your post is inspiring

  21. Thanks for this insightful post. It has given me much food for thought. You’re truly inspirational!

  22. Great Post!! Crafty insecurity happens to the best of us. I don’t think you were jealous of anything and there are NO mistakes in creativity. We do things and it may not come out the way we invisioned it, so we do it over again. It’s great that you compliment others and your compliments come from your heart. I’ve seen crafter’s that always want compliments on how great they are but they don’t whole heartly compliment sad. We are all wonderful at what we do and that’s the beauty of this’s just that we are all different. How odd and boring would this world be if we were all JUST alike;) Have a super wonderful day!!

  23. May, what a fantastic post! I’ve always appreciated your honesty and openness and willingness to share. Thanks for being you!

  24. Hi Sweet May! YOU inspire me and YOU are awesome!! What an intersting post and very thought provoking and true. One of my favorite sayings (and I think I invented it!) is: Success is not a finite substance. There is enough for all of us! So, let’s be cool and encouraging and happy. YAY! I’m intrigued to see what you’re up to next week. XOXOXO

Comments are closed.