I used to be a world famous artist
When I was young, I had a long blue table in my room that ran the length of the wall, jutting out underneath the window. A thick plastic platform, it served as the set for an arts and crafts show I would play out each week to an imagined audience of millions. I would energetically engage my double-glazed window in a lively narrative regarding a watercolour picture I was planning to paint that day.
Inspiration for each show came from the walls of my bedroom, where I had lovingly taped up magazine centrefold posters of docile little ponies grazing in green pastures, and kittens in tea cups, heads cocked to the side, frozen in quizzical curiosity for all of time.
I was empowered with the confidence of childhood, never doubting my ability or questioning my skill, the thought process was beautifully simple; I loved art, I loved horses, I was a brilliant orator, naturally I should have my own television show.
I painted ponies for years, and I was happy, successful in my craft and perhaps the best pony painting artist of my generation. I ruled a roost that did not know ‘comparison’. My only critics were my mum, who cooed absentmindedly over each four legged creation, and my dad who cocked his head to the side, frozen in quizzical curiosity for all of time…
It was only later, through the painful socialisation that we all go through in our journey into adulthood, that I started to doubt my abilities. In fact, I remember the first time it happened. I was at my dad’s office drawing a picture of a house, following the architectural formula that all children possess innately:
2 vertical lines, 2 horizontal lines, triangle roof, 4 square windows, rectangle door.
My dad’s best friend, a builder by trade, happened to be sat next to me during my design process, and he took my paper and said “no, no, like this, it must have depth!” Chuckling, he started drawing a ‘3D’ house which though rudimentary in fashion, resembled a real house more than my own effort, and leapt off the page at me. This was a grown up house, a proper home. I had been schooled by an adult and my imagination was winded.
I would never draw a stick house again. Now it was always the grown up house, the house my dad’s friend built, I had been influenced, and the influence stuck.
Shortly after the architectural revelation at my dad’s office, I cancelled my own TV show. Nadia’s art program was scrapped from channel Blue Table, and I retired my paintbrushes to an old jam jar, where they sat on my desk, fanned out like a bouquet of dead flowers. This was the first time in my life where I let an event or person get into my head and convince me that I wasn’t good enough to do something. And throughout my life, as I got older, those moments became more and more frequent, until finally it was a daily occurrence:
I have idea > I share it> people shred it > I doubt myself > I quietly throttle my idea to death in bed later that night > R.I.P idea
It took me a long time to stand up for the ideas and dreams I believed in, and I know from experience this is one of the most trying challenges we all face in our individual growth. Whether it is starting your own business, leaving a job, or becoming a world famous artist, we all have our critics. The important lesson, is to recognise that a critic is a judge in the court of opinion, and NOT the author of your destiny.