Don’t be afraid to try, because you never look back on life and smile at what you could have attempted. Joy only brightens your countenance over those things you did attempt.
I met my Inner Critic up close and personal recently but this time I dealt with him in an entirely different way.
Here’s the story.
Since moving to New Mexico, I’ve had this creative itch. Maybe it’s the beautiful environment. It might be the ready availability and celebration of art everywhere. I’m not sure where the urge has come from but I’m grateful it’s appeared. And this time I’m choosing not to tamp it down.
A few months ago I came across an announcement about a beginners watercolor class. So I registered. Totally spontaneous response. Something in my gut said, “Go for it!”
Then I got the materials list. Wow! Tons of stuff to buy. Lots of technical jargon. So many unknowns.
Those thoughts awakened my Inner Critic’s attention. “Hello…why are you spending money on stuff you’ll just end up throwing away? What makes you think you have any talent? How do you know you’ll be any good? You know you’re gonna be sitting in a class where everyone else has much more experience than you!”
You get the idea.
But this time I fought back.
I really wanted to take this class. Just for the heck of it. So I reminded myself that the course was for beginners, not professional artists. 1 point for me, 0 for my Inner Critic.
I reminded myself that when I decided to get serious about photography I discovered that those skills were not inborn but had to be learned. So it would be with watercolor painting. Score: 2 points for me, 0 for the naysayer.
I decided it’s more important to try than to shrink back and have regret later on. And the winner is…me!
Just before I entered the studio for the ﬁrst class, I purposefully told my Inner Critic to stay in the hallway. Seriously. I basically thought, “Sit. Stay.” I knew I wouldn’t be needing him. I was going to enjoy myself, learn what I could, and not beat up on myself if I didn’t get a concept or technique right away.
I stepped into the studio with curiosity and a beginner’s mind. It was a “what the hell” moment.
And you know what I discovered? Not that I’m the new Winslow Homer, for sure. I learned that painting watercolors is contemplative, meditative almost–a way for me to slow down–something I continue to work on. I also remembered that my brain craves the excitement and challenge of trying something new, so I felt more alive. And, I appreciated a forgiving process: that mistakes can be corrected, even late in the game. The best discovery? That it’s possible to let go of all expectations and just have fun no matter the outcome!
Who knew that jumping into something new, something that I could have framed as scary and very competitive, could teach me so many life lessons? I found some more parts of my authentic self in that watercolor class. And, the next time I attempt something completely out of my comfort range, I’m gonna be less afraid to do it.
Keeping life’s zest-o-meter on high!
Your Call to Action
How would your life be different if you gave yourself permission to try something new? What would you tell your Inner Critic to create the space needed for the new thing? When are you going to jump in?