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3 stories for your times of doubt
We are creators. Think about this for a second: We bring things into this world that did not exist before.
We usually live an unconventional life, question the status quo, and also help society to understand changes. For outsiders, our life is a fashionable, never-ending party!
It’s hard to be different, though. This path is usually full of fear and doubt.
Here are three short pieces from established artists that show us we are not alone. Doubt equals truth!
Tough guys with big hearts
The romantic song “Nothing Else Matters” from the Black Album (1991) was the song that put heavy metal on the radio and brought huge commercial success to Metallica.
But at the beginning, James Hetfield, the front man and singer, didn't even want to play the song for band members. He was kind of ashamed and embarrassed by this “love song.” In an interview with The Howard Stern Show, he said:
That was just one of those vulnerable places and, you know, that was just the last thing, especially in the late 80s… We built this reputation of tough guys, and we’re made of stone, and you can’t hurt us, and blah blah… I was shocked when Bob Rock and Lars both said, “That’s an amazing song!” It was a life changing experience to be okay playing this for them, and them expecting it.
A mother and a writer
Anna Quindlen is an author, journalist, and opinion columnist with a non-linear background. I chose part of her speech at Mount Holyoke College in 1999 to show how difficult it is to find your true self. This part perfectly explains how the greatest doubt we battle with comes from what the world expects of us:
This will always be your struggle whether you are twenty-one or fifty-one. I know this from experience. When I quit the New York Times to be a full-time mother, the voices of the world said that I was nuts. When I quit it again to be a full-time novelist, they said I was nuts again. But I am not nuts. I am happy. I am successful on my own terms. Because if your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all. Remember the words of Lily Tomlin: If you win the rat race, you're still a rat.
A failed artist
Jerry Saltz is a senior art critic at New York Magazine. He was once a young painter with big dreams who moved from Chicago to New York in the 1980s to “make it happen,” but found himself a totally lost soul in the NY art scene. He couldn’t make any meaningful connections in the creative communities and became isolated. His self-doubt finally made him quit. He tried so many different paths, and even became a truck driver until his 40s.
He eventually started working in the art world again, but as an art critic this time. His tough challenges and experience as an artist gave him a vision and made his work stand out. He soon became a remarkable writer with a rare empathy for artists. Later, when he looked back at his artist-self, he realized that he didn’t even have the personality:
Being an artist also made me realize that I wasn’t built for the type of loneliness that comes from art. Art is slow, physical, resistant, material-based, and involves an ongoing commitment to doing the same thing differently over and over again in the studio. As my wife has said many times, “Being a weekly critic is like performing live onstage.” Every week. I love and live for that jolt. Criticism involves constant change, drama, information coming in from the outside, processing it in the moment in front of everyone, always being in the here and now while also trying to access history and experience. I can’t only dance naked in private. I have to dance naked in public. A lot.
As you can see from the case of Mr. Saltz, not all forms of self-doubt are dangerous. Some are even necessary. Some are the truth.
Take care, my sensitive fellow creators. Talk to you next week!
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