Recently, I submitted some of my artwork to the Strathcona County Art Gallery@501. I hoped people would like my work. I hoped the county would buy my art to display. I hoped for a lot of things, but beneath, and on top of, that hope something else whispered to me.
Something whispered that I wasn’t good enough. Something whispered that people would laugh at my work.
I felt embarrassed by my submissions. I told myself the gallery accepted all submissions. I didn’t even need to be good and they’d still display my work. People would see my work. They’d see it for what it really was.
I saw derision.
In my head I picture people telling my they like my work just to be nice. In my head I see other people thinking my work is childish. They’re only saying nice things about my work to be – well – nice.
In my head I hear a lot of things. In my head I hear all the reasons I should keep my art hidden at home. In my head I hear all the reasons I shouldn’t talk to real artists. In my head I am not good enough. In my head I do not deserve to have my art on display. In my head my art is not valuable to others. In my head I doubt myself. A lot.
I submitted my work anyway.
Even though I never received a phone call saying my art was selected, I attended the unveiling reception at the gallery. I talked to other artists. I praised other artist’s work. It was so hard to go. I felt rather sick while I drove to the gallery. I wanted to leave before they made the announcements. I wanted to leave as soon as the announcements were done and I knew my work wasn’t selected.
I stayed anyway. I was uncomfortable. But I stayed. I chatted. I looked at a lot of art. Particularly the art that was purchased. I wanted to see what the selection committee saw. I wanted to learn. I wanted to open my eyes a little wider.
I was sad my work wasn’t selected for purchase. I was sad my work didn’t win the people’s choice award. But in my sadness I was also happy I tried. In my sadness I see hope. I see growth. I see a chance to learn more and do better next year.
I don’t know if I’ll feel anymore worthy next year, but sometimes it isn’t about feeling worthy, it’s about proving worth just by showing up.