Maybe this is vain to say, but there is a purpose to telling; I get compliments all the time. On my hair, how I did my hair, on my (rather boring, brown) eyes, that’s I’m pretty, that I have a bright smile and light up a room, on my just-slightly-eccentric-enough-to-be-noticed wardrobe and accessory choices….. but the bottom line is I get compliments all the time.

Why does this need to be broadcast to the world? well…. I don’t need the world to know so much as to remind myself that I have spent my entire life trying to be pretty. It’s every girl’s dream. We practice and change tactics and work at it. When something works, we add it to our repertoire and try other things to add to our success.

I have only spent the last year or less trying to make what I put on paper or design digitally beautiful. Naturally I’m better at one than the other.

What’s hard to overcome is my ingrained tendency to compare myself to others. Usually that comparison, while sobering and keeping me grounded in reality, defeats my motivation and leaves me breathless with failure. So, here, I am reminding myself that we are good at what we eat/breathe/think/do/love/dream… and this is a new(ish) dream. I can’t compare myself to the countless incredibly talented artists I see online, even to my own cousin whose work blows me away.

I have to remember that these amazingly talented artists have years on me. Ok, there are a few that are prodigies, but most have been drawing much longer than I. I’m no Grandma Moses yet, I’m only 25. I have time and more time to learn and become great, I just need to put in the hours.

As professional adults we can’t blame everything on our parents or our childhood, but I think my fear of visual artistic talent (my musical talent has ever been praised, never debated) is rooted in my sister’s successes. My parents never knew how to reward us for the same activity… we all had to have our own “thing.” I remember that I had too many things I was good at, and when I got good at my brother’s only “thing,” which was Olympic style small-bore rifle shooting, my dad asked me to quit because I was stealing what little glory he could gleen in my shadow. But where does glory come from for a 12 yr old? Surely it comes from our parents and, as parents, there was enough glory to give both children.

But that experience isn’t what convinced me I was bad at art. My sister did that. She was a bit of a prodigy, or so my mother constantly told her. Amazing, talented, exquisite… oh, and 8 years old than me. I could never compete. I remember looking at what she could do, and looking at my paltry attempts at bubble-letters and being unable to draw a symmetrical heart and thinking “oh well. that’s her thing. It won’t ever be my thing.”

There is no law that says only a certain number of people can be good at a certain thing.

Any parent that reinforces that point should be flogged because they are stunting their child’s growth.

I was trained to believe I was smart, and beautiful, and a talented musician. Consequently, as I grew older, those are the things I hung my hat on. Those were the things that defined me. As I played piano less because of a busy life and as I entered the “big pond” of college and was now a  “little fish” I didn’t feel so smart. I lost two of the major things that made me, me. Then, of course, being broke, alone, and discouraged by this identity crisis I really didn’t look too pretty or confident. So there it all goes. Whoosh. I’m not me anymore. I’m a wandering, aimless, talentless vagabond. All because only one of us could be good at each thing.

I refuse to be defined by those things anymore. I refuse to be defined by what I’ve done or what people say. I say what I am, and if it changes every ten minutes, so be it.

Right now I can define myself by my diligence. No, I’m not yet a great artist (or an artist as all, in my opinion.) Though I know this, many I know personally seem to think that if you change paths, then you must already be good at the thing your’e switching to. That is not the case at all. I WILL become what I wish to be through diligence. It does not come easily and that is what makes the successful, successful. If it were easy everyone would do it.

I spent 4 hrs today on a shitty little image of the word “Furry” covered in hand-drawn fur. Looking at it even a few hours later I know it’s awful, but I also know I learned quite a few things and can execute the techniques better next time. I didn’t do it for homework, to get an A. I didn’t do it for a client. I didn’t even do it for pay. I did it because the only way i’m going to get good at designing is BY designing. Everything. Anything. All the time. Painstakingly.

I know I’m beautiful when I do my hair and wear clothes that flatter and do my makeup just so.

But i’m learning that i’m diligent too, and I think that’s a much more important personal quality to have.