“Make it Better” is one of our Focus Lab Standards. While it speaks to the bettering of processes, client experiences, and craft, for me, this resonates in a completely different arena: of self-worth.
When I craft an image the line between it and me are blurred. The residue of self is on my art. I imagine that is something many creatives can understand. When critique is offered, it’s against all natural inclinations to listen open-heartedly. I go into full-on self-protection mode. But this isn’t the only place I’ve noticed I get defensive.
There’s this kid. Wait… stay with me, it’s not as juvenile as it seems. He’s half my age and a budding photographer. For his age, his images are astounding. More than that, I see the trajectory of his talents and experience as potentially bypassing mine. When he asked me to a photography challenge my first reaction was to decline for perfectly reasonable excuses: kids, work, business, self respect.
I saw through those weak excuses and knew that I was scared. The thought of competing with a kid who I knew would eventually outpace me assaulted where I placed my sense of self-worth. Despite my reeling emotions, I accepted. While I expected to even learn a little from the competition, I didn’t know growth would be more of the heart than craft.
“When we guard our precious sense of self with high walls, it keeps betterment at bay.”
When we guard our precious sense of self with high walls, it keeps betterment at bay. Logically I knew that my defenses would lead to stagnation, both personally and artistically. I had tough strides to make.
This year I am making intentional choices to become more open, to become better as the cost of self pride. Here’s how...
- I ask peers for portfolio critique.
- When there’s a designer, or photographer, that I’m particularly envious of, I ask them for a review.
- I publicly share my photography knowledge and professional experience.
- I look for ways to collaborate with other creatives.
- I’m part of a photography meetup, where the experience is wildly varied.
The personal and creative growth from these simple actions has been exponential. While previously there was a pride from being the sole creator of a piece, I now realize I was lacking.
I know this struggle is real and universal. What have you done to open yourself to help distance sense of self from your creation?