Last week marked one year since I launched the #100womenproject. I mentioned a little bit on my Instagram post from the actual anniversary how scary that project was, but in the world of highly curated social media posts, I haven’t really shared with you all how truly terrifying that process was or how my life has been since that project.
“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Before I graduated, I won the Capitol One Merit Award for Artistic Achievement. After that, I was accepted into a competitive juried show in Washington and won the Mayor’s Choice award in a local show. I don’t tell you these accomplishments to tell you how successful I was; I tell you these things because they gave me a false sense of security. I was riding out a high. Coming down from that high was brutal. Three big things came together so quickly after the #100womenproject and skewed my perspective. I thought I could just keep creating work, applying for shows and it would be smooth sailing right into grad school next year. No problem.
Well guys, that was a lie.
I’ve been rejected ten times more than I’ve been accepted to things. I apply for shows, artist features and all sorts of other opportunities and most of the time the answer is no. It is an incredibly humbling and draining experience. Currently, I can count my successes on one hand but I have lost count of the times that I have failed. I keep working because one day I hope to need two hands to count my successes, and eventually some toes!
“I reject your reality, and substitute my own!”
My Instagram is filled with colorful images that make it look like I spend all my time doodling, sewing and painting. It leaves out the parts where I stayed up too late drafting an email or application, or the part where my dog ran away with an art supply and I spent 30 minutes chasing him to reclaim it. I don’t show you the part where I spent an hour working on a piece only to realize it doesn’t look anything like what I wanted - so I started over. Those are the things I omit because they aren’t pretty. They’re real, and real isn’t always pretty or “Instagram-worthy”.
“If you’re going through hell, keep going”
During the #100womenproject, I spent the first week in panic mode because I feared people wouldn’t like my project. It started to gain momentum and I was elated! People were responding and participating. Then, I was cursed at online by two angry men. One who thought feminism was offensive to males everywhere. The second told me my silly yarn project was a sad display of the misguided notion of “girl power” that was ruining our society. I cried. Multiple times. But I kept writing about the project, I kept posting about it on different forums, and I reported the rude people to site moderators and just kept going. Because Miranda Sings is on to something - the haters just need to back off. You can either let them get to you and stop, or you can keep going.
“Sometimes your circle decreases in size but increases in value”
After college, I moved and am no longer near, or as close with, many of my peers. However, I am fortunate to have a small group of people in my life who remain close and supportive. Despite being scattered across the country, they have helped me with all of the ups and mostly downs of the post grad struggle. This eclectic bunch is comprised of childhood, college and post grad friends, former professors, mentors, and my mom. They will answer my calls and emails, meet me for coffee, listen to the latest crazy idea and give me an honest opinion. They’ve talked me off a ledge when I’m convinced I’m going nowhere with my life and feel the need to explain why via lengthy text message (sorry Dr. B).
“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.”
Henry Ward Beecher
Being a creative is hard because you are constantly putting a piece of yourself on display and having it judged, criticized and often rejected. It’s tough. I’m 23 and have paint in my hair about 50% of the time. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but I’m working on it.