Intimidation. Failure. Overcoming it all.

I am the fourth oldest of eleven children. I have five brothers and five sisters. Growing up, at least one of my siblings was always better at the things that I enjoyed than I was. I didn’t begrudge them that, I was just intimidated by them. Being intimidated by my family made me intimidated of everyone. If I couldn’t feel free to share my stories/art with the people who are supposed to be closest to me then hoping to receive validation from anyone else in the world wouldn’t have even occurred to me as possible.

In regards to writing, my oldest sister was amazing in English and loved to write. She went to college for a PhD in English. Another sister loved to write and was attempting to get a book accepted by a publishing company. I never wanted them or a parent to read my work until I knew it was perfect. The things they wrote and let the parents read was “perfect” and I didn’t want to be a failure because I couldn’t meet the standards they had already set.

I liked to read my stories to my younger siblings as I wrote them. None of them would write and since they were younger the intimidation was not there. They always enjoyed what I wrote and would give me good feedback, also everything I wrote was always designed for their age range. Of course my mother would always find out about everything and she banned me from reading my stories to “her children”. Her reasoning was that she didn’t know what I was writing about and pretty much she didn’t want me filling their heads with “my garbage”. Instead of asking me about the stories or requesting to read them as well she would forbid me to write anything at all.

The same went for art. I come from a family with many talented artists. My uncle, my aunt, my grandmother, my father, my sister, all of them were worlds above my skill. It wasn’t until I was in college and had made friends that I was told that my art was good and people actually liked it. My art teacher had selected some of the works I had done in class to be put on display at the local art gallery for a student art show. I was very proud, begged and begged my mother to go see it, and finally on one of the final days for the show, she decided to go. It was pretty pointless because all she did was complain/critique the other students’ work and really said nothing about mine. Years after I was no longer in college I had a younger sister and an old co-worker/friend attend the same college and they informed me that my teacher was still displaying my artwork on the campus.

Years later, I now have friends that encourage me in what I love to do and don’t treat me like a failure when I can’t meet a certain “standard”. I have also learned that it really doesn’t matter what anyone thinks. If you enjoy doing something and are passionate about it, pursue it. Even if its just something that you want to do for a hobby and don’t care if no one knows about it. Probably 70% of my artwork will never be seen by anyone other than me, and there are stories that I will never want to share with the world, but I will continue drawing and writing because I enjoy it.

Also all of this does not mean that you can take offense when, say you write something, people tell you that you need to work on the grammar or spelling. Constructive criticism is not the same as calling you a failure. What this does mean is don’t listen to the people that just want to pull you down and all they give you is negativity.  Yes, being intimidated by others and afraid of failure is very hard to get over. I still struggle with it at times but you just have to push through it and find friends/family that will encourage you and be honest with you.


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