Imagine a film about your life. The lead actor, playing you, doesn’t know where to start. They follow you around all day long and see what you do, how you behave, what makes you laugh, what you cook. What, do you think, will they notice? What characteristics will set you apart from their other roles?
Now is the perfect time to go ahead, have a little pride and enjoy the things that make you you. Feeling shy? Not sure where to start? Here are seven simple ways to celebrate your unique talents.
1. Don't Be Shy
It’s okay to acknowledge your strengths (to yourself and others). Many artists are perfectionists and are shy about showing anyone their work until the final final draft is complete. But how can we grow if we keep everything to ourselves? How can we develop new perspectives and techniques if we never let anyone in? Instead of indulging self-conscious worries and “What-Ifs,” take a risk and show someone your latest project – whether a few sketches or pages of music. Extra points if you share it online, too.
2. Just Do It
Ironically, though many artists are perfectionists, we’re also procrastinators. The prospect of creating and desiring to do so perfectly, without any rough drafts, is so terrifying that many times we don’t even start. Resist! Don’t feed the paralysing fear. Just dive in and make something. Buy some cheap watercolours and make your best friend a card. Pick up that cello and learn a song outside of your usual genre. Contact that designer acquaintance you met through a friend and see if they’re interested in collaborating. You never know unless you try.
3. Comparison is the Thief of Joy
Don’t compare yourself to others. It’s tempting, but it kills creativity. Besides, there will always be someone more experienced, financially stable, or technically skilled than you—so unless you’re the richest, best-known, oldest and most experienced ceramicist around, there will always be a ceramicist who’s slightly older, slightly more experienced, slightly better-off. Luckily, you have another trick up your sleeve. You’re you, and you’re the only one on the planet who can be you to the best of your ability. Make sense? You can’t be them, so be your best you instead. No one is better at you than you are.
4. Appreciate Yourself
We are our own worst critics—and while never-ending sprint towards perfection can motivate and improve our craft, it’s also exhausting. Don’t misjudge yourself! Even Matisse said, “It has bothered me all my life that I do not paint like everybody else.” Despite all his success and contributions to the development of painting and sculpture—despite his status as preeminent artist of the 20th century—Matisse still harboured self-doubt. Again, a healthy dose of scepticism can push us to work harder, but we must also know when to step back and admire our own work. Matisse is not remembered for mimicking others, but for standing out as an innovator in his own right. Do the same: accept that you’re remarkable and create accordingly.
5. Commit It to the Page
Thinking is easy, committing is hard—so while you may consider what makes you unique, it’s more powerful to bring those considerations into reality. Make the statement: “I am unique and here’s why.” Write it down! On a scrap of paper (or in a journal, if you’re organised), make a note of your best gifts, your greatest passions, your strangest quirks. Write “2016” at the top and save it. Write the same thing next year and compare how your skills, interests, and self-perception grow in a year!
6. Think of Others
Stuck in a cycle of thinking you’re not-so-great? Imagine how many others feel the same way! Take the initiative and reach out to other creatives. It doesn’t have to be a full-blown collaborative project – try a night of busking, attend a live performance, or ask someone to teach you something new (mixology, calligraphy, the trumpet). By taking a risk and showcasing yourself, you not only empower yourself, but others. Who knows? There could be many, many artists out there looking for someone to take the first leap. You might find your perfect collaboration partner!
7. Pay it Forward
You don’t have to display your talent on a stage or in an exhibition – be creative. Write the story, start the drawing, pull out the canvas. Bake something amazing and share it with your flatmate. Upload that funny video of you singing 1970s karaoke last weekend. Make a dozen silly doodles and leave them on the train for unsuspecting passengers. Celebrate your unique talent by encouraging others to share theirs.