I’ve never identified as a maker. I don’t bake, I’ve never built a house, and I’m not dedicated to any particular form of art. My professional career has consisted of positions in which I’ve helped, organized, cared for, coordinated, scheduled, planned, listened, attended meetings, and ultimately had no tangible product to show for all my work. And yet I’m drawn to watching countless episodes of Food Network and HGTV shows, where charismatic TV personalities use their hands to create beautiful houses or mouth-watering dishes in the span of 30 minutes. It’s incredible, and Chip and Jo from Fixer Upper are pretty much #relationshipgoals.
Although I’ve never been a “maker” I deeply admire those who are. My partner, Olivia, is an artist. I marvel at her creativity and her commitment to bringing beauty into this world. She does so in incredibly simple ways but they always leave me awestruck. Oftentimes I would think to myself, “I wish i could do that” as she whipped out a masterful watercolor over an afternoon in the park.
Before leaving for the SSP tour I asked myself “What’s stopping you?” My answers came from a place of fear and self judgement. “That’s her thing” and “You’re not even good at painting.” As the trip’s start date drew closer I continued to dwell on my secret desire to paint. Eventually (with some help) I was able to stifle that little voice telling me I was a fraud and painted my first watercolor.
It’s now day 44 of our 73 day tour and I’ve finished 10 paintings. I was utterly self-conscious at first. I felt like I was impersonating an artist and trying to be something I’m not. But I enjoyed the mental solitude that painting allows for. The intense focus I have while painting leads me to a sense of peace. It is that feeling that keeps me painting and quiets my doubts. Now when I finish a painting I can’t wait to show it off! I’m so proud of myself! I feel like a little kid whose drawing just make it onto the coveted refrigerator gallery space. With each painting I understand the medium better and feel my confidence grow.
It’s exhilarating to realize that I can attempt any small thing I admire in other people. That goes for you too! If you think it’s cool that someone journals daily, wears fedoras, or carries a travel watercolor set, then what’s stopping you from trying it out yourself? It was only my own insecurities and ideas of ownership that held me back from trying something new. In reality, there’s nothing stopping me from taking up a new hobby, experimenting with my style, or changing my ways.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that we all start impersonating our favorite celebrities and take on a Mr. Ripley brand of lifestyle. But if you’ve ever wanted to take a yoga class and didn’t because you thought you wouldn’t fit in with the bendy, zen goddesses who have been going for years, I implore you to reconsider. We are not old dogs, we can learn new tricks. We can continue to explore new skills and remain true to ourselves at the same time. Olivia does not own water-coloring on a park bench and neither do I. It all starts with being kind to ourselves, which I know is by no means easy. But over the past few weeks, by letting myself emulate someone I admire I ended up becoming my own hero.