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  • Kirsten Johnston

Gaining confidence?

Miriam Schulman is an American artist and art teacher. She is also the brains and voice behind The Inspiration Place podcast where she, and guests, discuss topics relevant to artists at all stages, ranging from finance, overwhelm, motivation, marketing and pricing. Miriam said something the other day that dramatically challenged my thinking and I thought I’d share it with you.

We always talk about gaining confidence. This implies that, in any given field (or even generally), we begin at a point of little confidence and, as our experience grows, we develop the conviction we require to be pleased with our work, to continue with it or to put the results out in the world.

Miriam, however, believes that confidence is our default position. We are born with it. She suggests that a baby learning to walk is secure in the knowledge that they will be able to succeed. Babies don’t say (well, obviously, but you know what I mean) ‘hey Mum, I’ve fallen over three times. I don’t think this walking thing is really for me. I think I’ll give up and move on to something else.’ In the art world, we frequently talk in envious tones about the freedom and unfetteredness of young children’s drawing and painting. They express and experiment without boundaries or judgement. They have confidence built in.

So, is it that we, over time, subconsciously manufacture a lack of confidence? Perhaps it is because of knocks we suffer at the hands of others. Perhaps it is because of comparison with the work of others. Perhaps it is because of a societal bias against being pleased with oneself. Whatever the reason, we perceive that we start with a low degree of faith in ourselves and need to strive to rise above that.

How liberating is the concept that we may already have the mental tools to dive into our pursuits without questioning and doubt? From where I sit, it seems impossible to shift my thinking in such a radical way but, simply by considering it, I am sure at least small steps forward can be made.

With best wishes,

Kirsten

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