Let me try not
I want to remain
of the fact
that the bravest
man amongst us
will never overcome
the innate fear
Ok, so this past year I placed and won an award in a pretty prestigious art competition. One of those fancy ones where you have to pay hundreds of dollars to even go to the art show and sale, and the auction bids can get pretty crazy. It was for charity though, so I didn’t mind the high price stuff related to it. This was definitely the most “high-brow” art show I have been a part of.
Now they have announced that the first year’s show was such a success that they are doing the competition for 2020 too. I plan to enter and am excited about it, but also really nervous and filled with self doubt. I keep feeling like if I don’t place at all next year or at least place as high as I did this year that I will somehow be failing.
I tell myself this is ridiculous. There are so many talented artists out there and if I don’t place again it won’t mean that I am less talented, it will only mean that they preferred someone else’s take on the contest subject matter. Also, I want other artists to feel the happiness I felt when I found out I had been selected as a winner. I don’t want to be selfish.
I know deep down this is probably about my perfectionistic streak and low self-esteem. Part of me feels like it was just a lucky fluke to be recognized by the “elite” art world at all. I wish I could not put this unnecessary pressure on myself. I know it isn’t healthy or helpful. Any suggestions for how to let go of the fear of failure?
The past few days have not been the greatest. I’ve been both super anxious and fairly depressed. I guess it is probably what most people would call a mixed state in the bipolar community. I feel on edge all the time. My brain is constantly telling me something is wrong and that I need to fix it, but I don’t know what it is. The depression is telling me that I am worthless, no one really likes me anyway, and everything I do is pointless.
The depression is making me feel never good enough. It is times like these that no matter what I achieved, I would probably still feel a failure. If I suddenly won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry or had my art showcased at the Louvre, I would still find fault with it and myself in this particular mood. It is a hellish feeling.
This depression is interlaced with anxiety that pushes me to want to achieve, achieve, achieve right now, but in this state I am so all over the place that it is hard to concentrate on anything for long. Not to mention that the depression makes me feel like it is all futile anyhow, even as my whirling mind is telling me that I’m not trying hard enough.
All of this is heightening my chronic pain. I hurt so bad deep in my muscles, I feel like I have been tortured on the medieval rack.
I think the title and video pretty much say it all:
By the way, if you are struggling with any mental health issues of your own, make sure to check out BetterHelp‘s online resources!
By: Maranda Russell
Why do I feel like
my poetry sucks?
I try to write,
only to find myself
poured out like milk
and starting to
Do you ever wonder if it all matters? I sure do. I try to be positive most of the time when I think about the things I do and whether they make a difference, but when I get depressed, the voices of doubt tend to get louder. They say some pretty mean things:
Are you just wasting your time writing and making art? Who really cares?
Why would anyone care what you have to say? Who do you think you are?
You try to support others, but do they even notice? Does it even help them?
You only focus so much on art and writing because you can’t keep a REAL job.
Your own family never cared that much about you, why would anyone else?
If you died today, barely anyone would notice or care. Your funeral would be empty.
You are selfish and everyone sees through you.
You are a drain on your husband and society in general.
I know these are very negative (some would even say abusive) thoughts, but when I am feeling low, they play in my head like a stuck record. By writing them out, I am hoping they will finally shut the hell up. Do any of these thoughts (or similar ones) ever haunt you?
Recently my therapist and I have been talking about and working on my hypersensitivity to criticism. I have always had some hypersensitivity to any kind of criticism or rebuke. As a kid, I was the one you could make cry by looking at me wrong or even gently scolding me. I still tear up over things like that, even though I wish I didn’t.
This inability to deal constructively with any kind of feeling of failure has haunted me throughout my adult life, especially in the work world. I think this fear of not living up to expectations is partly why I struggle with immense anxiety around any kind of authority figure (bosses, teachers, doctors, police, etc.) Many times this anxiety is so strong that I am almost struck dumb (probably a type of selective mutism), such as when I have had to go for job reviews or any other kind of personal evaluation.
I have noticed though that my hypersensitivity to criticism focuses mainly on 5 areas. If I am criticized on something outside of these 5 topics, I am likely to be able to shake it off better or not let it bother me in the first place. Here are the subjects I am referring to:
- My art or writing. I am extremely sensitive to any criticism about my art and writing. However, I think this one is fairly normal for creative types. We all put a bit of our heart and soul into the things we create, in a sense they are our “babies” and we gave birth to them. This does create problems for me when it comes to having the confidence to share my art and writing publicly, especially in person.
- My looks and weight. I have always felt that I was rather plain or average-looking, so I have a bit of an achilles heel here. I was bullied quite a bit in middle school when I gained some weight after my dad died, and although I lost the weight a couple years later, those mean words about being “fat” have stuck with me. I have always relied on my intelligence, not my looks, to get me anywhere. I am proud of that fact, but sometimes I wish I felt more confident about the way I look.
- Any accusation of laziness or incompetence. I think the laziness thing bothers me because my mom would accuse me of that all the time. “Lazy”, “good for nothing”, “useless”…words like that stick with you. As for the incompetence, it doesn’t even have to be someone else that says something. If I feel even slightly incompetent (at anything) within myself it is enough to send me into a meltdown, probably a result of my perfectionism.
- Any perceived insult to my intelligence. As I said before, I have always relied on my intelligence to get through life, so if that is questioned or doubted, I feel worthless.
- Any insinuation implying that I am childish/immature or a crybaby. I have a lot of “childlike” qualities, as do many with Aspergers syndrome, and those can be endearing, but when people turn it into a bad thing and accuse me of childishness or immaturity, I feel misunderstood and hurt. I am extremely sensitive in some ways, but I hate the term “crybaby”.
So, what do you guys think? Do you share any of these insecurities? Are you also hypersensitive to criticism in these areas or others?
I had the strangest lucid dream ever the other night. As many lucid dreams start, I was in the middle of a dream when I suddenly realized that I WAS dreaming, and at that point was able to take over and consciously guide the rest of the dream. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but after thinking about all the cool stuff I had done in previous lucid dreams over the years (meeting Michael Jackson, swimming in outer space with whales, visiting a robot world, etc.), I decided to start off with just flying – probably my favorite dream activity!
I flew a bit above the earth for a while, enjoying the beauty of the nature, towns, and waterways that passed below me, and then decided to fly higher and see what I could find above me. For some reason, it was a struggle to get high enough, almost like I didn’t believe in myself enough to go higher, even though I knew it was a dream and I had all the power.
Finally I did get high enough to reach a higher plane of existence, which by the way was a very interesting place. If I remember right it was almost ancient Greek-like in structure, had more advanced beings that weren’t quite angels, but felt more advanced than humans. The most interesting part of this place was that I viewed a puppet show where my mother, one of her previous husbands, and others I had known in my life were the puppets being controlled by these other beings. It was super weird.
While on this higher plane, I was greatly tempted to delve beneath their sea, because I could remember past lucid dreams where I had been able to travel underwater without needing to breathe, but now I was suddenly afraid to try it again, even though I knew it was a dream and I knew nothing could truly hurt me. I knew I couldn’t drown, but I still struggled to overcome my own self doubt and my grasp of “reality”, similar to how I had struggled to believe I could fly higher earlier in the dream.
In the end, I knew that the only thing holding me back was my fear and need to believe in myself, but it was almost impossible to overcome those things. I know there is a real message of depth there, even for my waking life, but I’m still a little weirded out by the whole experience. Hopefully I don’t sound like a nutcase too lol.
The dollies and my bunny say hello! The baby doll in the panda suit is a new addition to my collection, but sadly, he has some issues (floppy, loose head) and I may have to return him and get another one. The outfit that the bunny is wearing I got at a thrift store for less than a buck! Good deals! I also got some more vintage puzzles that I’m sure I will be sharing images of soon!
Ok, now with the cuteness aside, I’ve had a rough few days. A lot of mood swings, anxiety, and depression. I’ve also been feeling insecure and sometimes like I don’t even know who I really am. I wonder if that is why I try so hard to figure out what conditions I actually have and what is wrong with me…because I need an outside force (be it a doctor or diagnosis) to TELL me who I am. I know this kind of feeling is normal when you are a teenager and just figuring out who you are, but I’m 35 freakin’ years old! Shouldn’t I know by now?
I even find myself questioning my blogging efforts. I wonder if anyone really likes the stuff I am into (particularly the toys and puzzles and stuff like that), or am I just boring everyone? But if I talked about nothing on the blog but my mental and physical problems, wouldn’t that get boring in itself? See, I am doing far too much overthinking and that always leads to picking out flaws and beating myself up. It wouldn’t matter WHAT I did on here, I would feel like it isn’t worthwhile sometimes and like I am a burden to others.
I know in my heart, that these feelings of inadequacy are not something that anyone else can clear away for me. It wouldn’t matter how much praise or reassurance I received from others as long as I am still doubting myself inside. I guess at least I recognize that. I appreciate all you guys sticking with me through all the ups and downs. Having a place to open up like this makes a huge difference.