Confession From A Middle-aged Artist
I don’t enjoy networking.
There, I said it.
I have a tendency to avoid openings and gallery events (note to young artists – I don’t recommend this, it puts a big cramp in your ability to foster a sense of a community).
I avoid participating for two reasons. One, I have social anxiety (throngs of people equal an introvert’s nightmare) and, two, it triggers my “I’m an imposter!” response.
I’m not saying that I never enjoy myself when I do go – I’ve met artists who have become wonderful, cherished friends at openings. It’s just sometimes I feel depleted and a little discouraged afterwards.
As I mature into my practice, I’m working diligently to shift my experience of openings from being something I feel I HAVE to do into something I WANT to do and enjoy. I brought the issue up in a recent call with my fab biz coach, Leah Goard. She shed light in a way that quickly resonated with me on why I avoid the important social part of my practice.
When I Go To Openings I Don’t Go Alone
Leah pointed out that when I go to openings I don’t go alone. There are a couple of gals who always insist on joining me: Expectation and Judgement. These two are, in a word, mean. Especially Judgement, who has an opinion on everything and everybody and, in particular, me.
Judgement is definitely the Alpha Girl in our outings.
Any time my mind is blown by the skill and beauty of an artist’s work my heart swells and I think “This is freakin’ AWESOME!!”. Judgement’s immediate response to this is, “Yes, it IS amazing – and you will NEVER be at this level”. Then Expectation (who sounds like Lumpy Space Princess from Adventure Time) has to throw her two cents in and say, “Yah, so you should probably just stop making art right now. Just give up.” From there it quickly spirals downhill and the two of them eventually end up critically picking apart what I’m wearing. Petty little bitches.
It’s no wonder I avoid openings. Who in their right mind wants to subject themselves to being bullied by two internal mean girls?
As an exercise Leah suggested that the next time I go to openings I consciously leave Judgement and Expectation at home and invite two new girls to accompany me: Exploration and Curiosity.
Instead of enduring a running stream of negative patter I’ll be able to interact with exclamations of wonder and an inquisitive, open mind. Merely thinking about this tactic allows me to breathe a sigh of relief. I can’t wait to try it out.
What of Expectation and Judgement? I don’t have plans to un-friend them yet – they are useful in small doses when you separate them and take away their ability to gang up on you. I do plan on spending much less time with them, though.
Who accompanies you when you navigate through your world?