Paula K.

A few paragraphs of my reams of writing follow for Week Three. 

"I loved the quote this week. It’s one that I’m going to put up in my studio space and be mindful of, particularly when the dark thoughts, malice and shame are having a party (and you think what an awful person you are!)

This exercise has really made me think more about where self-critical thoughts come from. I’ve written reams - here’s a few paragraphs...

I recognized some time ago why I feel as I do, but even though I know I haven’t been able to ditch the thoughts, or sometimes it seems I have but then they creep back, perhaps when things aren’t going so well or someone seems to have been mean. I don’t hear voices of people that I know/have known or at least I’ve never recognized them as such. I just seem to have an inexhaustible inner critic. It’s tedious. I have the voice that challenges her too (the rebel?) but even if it seems she has triumphed there’s the “what if voice of inner critic is really right?” moment. It’s mad – and sometimes I think I am so this exercise is really reassuring!

Thinking on it though I can see that the inner critic is driven by experiences with various folk so I can select a Committee.  The key member would have to be my Dad. He rarely had a positive thing to say about us as kids, and making a mistake, in any form, was a crime. We learned to be quiet and not draw attention to ourselves – it was the best way to stay out of trouble. Even if we were hurt we were shouted at! I still hate being shouted at or being ridiculed by anyone and am conscious about being private. If I don’t expose myself I’m not so open to either! Even writing about this is difficult because I’m doing the thing that will draw attention to me, will expose me and, in saying all this, may broadcast that I’m not any of the things I should be! (Confident, strong, pretty, brave etc, etc) I tend to be a background person as a result, am happy in a support role but don’t feel comfortable being up front in case I’m found out/criticized etc. 

I am not confident and find this irritating, but, again, I know where that lack of confidence comes from but, although I can rationalize it, I still find it hard to get over that hill and feel that it’s OK to feel positive/good about yourself; there is always that voice that says this makes you selfish, you’re kidding yourself, who are you to think you are artistic/capable… insert any positive attribute you like!!! It really is mad – I’m a grown up, a big girl but I still let this voice have authority over the way I feel about myself and, by extension, my work. I never feel I know enough about anything to be good at it.

Don’t get me wrong we didn’t have a bad childhood, just a Dad who was perpetuating behavior he’d been exposed to as a child. 

Another committee member is a friend who is a very talented artist. Has a degree, studied at Pratt. He is very supportive but I guess he’s on my committee because I so want to produce work that he will consider as good and I want to be able to talk to him about it intelligently and I’m conscious that I don’t have an Art degree or even always have the language to converse with him. I feel like a gangling adolescent struggling to impress.

Other members are a few former work colleagues and school mates. I think (but the truth is I don’t know) these folk wonder what the hell I’m doing pretending to be an artist/maker having done something completely different previously. Here again my lack of a formal qualification I feel exposes me as a pretender.

I know that all this is going on in my head, that I’m not that important to the majority of other people (and that’s not false modesty, it’s just recognizing the truth) so it bugs me that I continue to let these thoughts confine me/my creativity. And really, even if all this were true – so what! It’s not a big deal really. In the grand scheme of things it’s nothing! So I feel irritated as to why these parasitic thoughts continue to have a hold over me?  

Jane talks about real fears and how committee members represent them. So now to dig out the real fears."