Photo of sunlight streaming through trees in a park, taken by Joana Miranda

Photo of sunlight streaming through trees in a park, taken by Joana Miranda

Be yourself.  Everyone else is taken.

But what if you’re not sure if “being yourself” is good enough?  If true validation comes from within, how can you overcome your doubts to be your own best advocate?

One of the blogs I follow regularly is artist Robert Genn’s The Painter’s Keys.  Last month, he responded to a letter from a fan, Karen, who confessed that she is an “art flirt.”  She finds herself becoming infatuated with the style of other painters and (thanks to the internet) “falls in love” multiple times a day.  Finding her own voice and style, as a result, eludes her.

You can read her letter, Robert’s response, and the many excellent comments here:

I, too, am an “art flirt” at times.  In fact, all of us have probably experienced many times in our chosen fields where we admire the successes we see in people around us, think that maybe they have the answer,  and, that by emulating them, we might find our own voice.  Frustratingly, what we usually find is our own shortcomings.

Robert suggests in his reply to Karen that she adopt a habit of “media chastity,” beginning with the goal of one day and building from there.  I’d go further to say that the process of finding your voice is a lifelong one and, as such, needs be approached from every angle.  For one thing, starting from the end point, can give some perspective:

If you had only a week to live, how would you want to live it?  

What would you want to be remembered for?

What legacy – artistic, spiritual or personal – would you want to leave behind?

From here, it’s a little easier to break down your lifelong goals into more manageable chunks – i.e. 3 year goals and even 6 month goals.

The nitty-gritty, in my opinion, comes down to how you pursue your goals in the day-to-day mundaneness of life.   This is where trying to maintain a realistic perspective is necessary.  In addition to being our own worst critics, we often spend more time than we probably even realize making judgments about others and the world around us.  Becoming aware of our inner censor is a crucial first step.  And realizing that our opinions are not necessarily truth, but merely our way of seeing things, is an important second step.

Remember, the flip side of falling in love with everything outside of you, is a harsh judgement of everything inside of you.  Neither viewpoint is realistic.

What will you do today to reach closer to your goals?


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