Self-Doubt is Bullshit

May 6, 2019 / Music - Piano / synchronicity / overcoming criticism

Janus businessman looking forward and backwards night and day
Night & Day, 2012Collaged Cyanotype Print. 17 x 16.8in. Limited edition of 12.


While talking to my Mom over FaceTime last week, I played Waltz in A Minor by Chopin, a piece I’ve been working on for the past month.

I was starting and stopping every couple of beats.

And finally I got to the end.

“Why can’t you play it all the way through?”

“Mom, I’m still learning!” Which was true. I started playing the piano again after 35 years.

I then remembered feedback I received after getting into the second honors-list in grade four.

My Dad said “why not first honors?”

How do kids defend themselves from such well meaning criticism?

Looking at it from another angle, maybe it is better to be told you’re lacking instead of being told you’re special. I don’t know which is worse.

Anyway, the damage is done, and I realize it shows up in my thinking now. For example, I look at my artwork and say why isn’t this picture finished, why are you so slow, why can’t you figure this out.

How do you deal with this kind of self-criticism?

The Universe sent one possible answer a few days later* in the form of Lisa Call’s newsletter. Lisa Call is a textile artist who I’ve followed for a long time. A productive, exhibiting, and financially successful artist, Lisa Call blows the “starving artist” myth out of the water. I identify with her because she’s an IT person-turned-artist, while I’m an accountant-turned-artist.

In her newsletter, she referred to her favorite quote: “self doubt is bullshit.”

That seemed like an answer I needed. I’ll have to remember that next time.

*Is this an example of synchronicity?

Synchronicity Example : Back to Piano

About the Author

Jonah Calinawan

Hello! I’m Jonah Calinawan, an accountant turned artist.

I create cyanotype art that makes you think and write about the creative mindset to help and inspire you.

When not shooting photos, I teach myself piano and recommend pianist Josh Wright’s Propractice tutorials (affiliate link).

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