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Anxiety and The Arts

Photo of someone with anxiety

One thing I battle with daily is anxiety. Anxiety can get in the way of numerous things, including being creative and productive in the arts. There are some days where the anxiety is so strong it is difficult to even get out of bed that morning, let alone be able to paint, write, or create anything. There can be numerous causes for the anxiety, but for me in particular, I always ask the question, “Is my artwork and writing good enough?”

First and foremost, I know a few things realistically. The first thing is that nothing is ever perfect no matter how much I want to be a perfectionist, period. Secondly, I also know that there will always be artwork or even pieces of artwork, that I will always feel far exceeds my talents and skills. The skill of a good artist is to know this, accept it, and still put out the best pieces one can. This does not mean the anxieties are not hiding in the background.

Photo of someone with anxiety

I know for me, I occasionally stop to ponder, “Is my work good enough?” I ask myself if I should even try, or if anyone will want to look at the works I create or read the words I put to paper. Is anything I have to say in my writing or paintings and drawings worth the effort? The first reaction to these questions for a person with anxiety is doubt coupled with insecurities. The key is to take that doubt and those insecurities and use them as a stepping stool to creating works instead of dwelling on them. Dwelling on them won’t make great works, but a stepping stool allows us to reach greater heights. No, the anxieties, the insecurities, are never actually gone. Even with a confident facade, every artist has a lingering doubt somewhere that whispers to us in the back of the mind. Do we choose to believe that voice, or do we use them to make ourselves better?

Photo of someone painting

For many years, my anxiety prevented me from painting or drawing. I even danced ballet, jazz, and modern dance once upon a time. I loved and enjoyed it, and still do to this day. Though I have nowhere near the skills to successfully become a prima ballerina, not to mention several injuries preventing me from ever being able to pursue that art form, I still enjoyed it. Dancing will never amount to the joy I feel with expressing myself through words or visual arts.

I know realistically there is always a chance my love and hobby may never take off to great heights. Instead of being discouraged and staying with a job that may exacerbate the anxieties already hidden deep, I choose to continue to create art and write to my heart’s content. If I am successful, it will be the icing on my cake. If I am not successful, then at least I can say I gave it my best effort and enjoyed the process.

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