I’m pretty sure most artists feel this way from time to time, no matter the level of their success. It’s the feeling that makes your gut turn, makes your eyes burn, and makes you want to sleep forever and never see daylight ever again. It’s the feeling known as “Not Being Good Enough.” Capitalized for seriousness and universality.
Lately, I’ve had a lot of wonderful things happen to me. My work is in the GRAM for ArtPrize. The same piece was awarded an Honorable Mention in the International Photography Awards (which is one the most ambitious competitions in the photography world.) I currently have work on display in California, work that is going to be displayed in California, have been published numerous times this past year, and my peers look forward to what I make next.
But the little devil called NBGE (given an acronym to once again emphasize the toxicity of the expression,) continuously knocks at my door. It tells me that I’ll never be able to produce something as profound as my Home Sweet Home series (which has mainly been the source of my recent success.) It tells me that no grad school is going to want me. It says that all this work is nothing, don’t get ahead of myself, don’t envision an ideal future where I am successful because it’s not going to happen.
NBGE is a real party-pooper.
Sometimes I believe NBGE for a short while- and only ever a short while. Because then I get angry at it, and I like to tell it that it’s wrong, because arguing that you will not be a failure is empowering, even if you’re really just arguing with yourself. NBGE likes to try and inhibit me, but in effect it actually motivates me. When I’m feeling sorry for myself, I do a few things:
1.) I look at other photographer’s work for inspiration and motivation.
2.) I look at my own work and try to remember what it was I liked about it.
3.) I think back at how many people I have made happy by asking them to model for me, and how many people who came up to me at ArtPrize and told me their childhood stories.
4.) I pick up my camera.
5.) and I try, try, try again.
Maybe I won’t ever make it. But, better yet, maybe I will. Whenever I create something good, like Home Sweet Home, I get the crippling version of NBGE that tells me that I will never be able to replicate that success. I agree with NBGE in that respect, but I’m thinking of that concept in a different way. I will never be able to replicate success, because each success is different from the last. Of course they’re not the same. I make myself remember what the last “best thing I ever did” was, to remind myself that as I grow as a photographer and an artist, my ideas will too.
So, take that, NBGE. I’ll prove you wrong again and again, because I am good enough and I have the drive to prove it.
On that note, go prove your inner NBGE wrong. Happy Shooting.