jealous of makers

“Help, I’m jealous of other makers!”

It's time to serve up something new

Dear Clare,

I’m so jealous of other makers. Scrolling through Instagram burns me up but I can’t stop doing it.

Some of these makers are real-life friends. We all rent space in a shared studio so I know they’re talented, kind and completely deserving of their success. But when I’m alone with my phone, I get this overwhelming “But WHAT ABOUT ME?” feeling. I want what they have so bad. They have all these followers, sales and success. And no-one even notices me. I feel so ashamed.

Because honestly, what about me?

I make what I know will sell and have my little band of customers. I’ve been selling to the same three stores for years. I’m not struggling like some people.

And I’m older than them, in my fifties. I’ve earned my living from art for nearly twenty years.

But I read their captions about “following your dreams” and want sob under the table. Or punch my fist through a wall.

Sometimes I think I should just close my business.

WTF is wrong with me?

L

Dear L,

Boy, you’re tired.

You’re desperate to cross the finish line and rest. The trouble is, you’ve been trained to believe that the finish line is a certain level of followers, sales and success.

These other makers have apparently reached that line but you haven’t, which means you have to keep running. And there’s no end in sight.

Maybe you’ll never get there.

No wonder you’re obsessed with people who are already at the medal ceremony. As you said, you want what they have.

Except…

They don’t really have it. Not in the way you think they do.

No success is forever. The makers you envy may be on a victory lap now, but tomorrow they’ll have to sit down and figure out how to succeed again.

All the while, scintillating new makers are coming up behind them. The pressure never ends.

It’s boring.

But holy cats, you aren’t. Something is banging on every pot in your kitchen, trying to get your attention.

BUT WHAT ABOUT YOU!

Exactly. What about you?

You’ve been reliably paying your bills by making art for twenty years. When you can do that, does it really matter if 30 or 300,000 people like your work?

Is seeking approval from the largest possible audience the reason you picked up a pencil all those years ago?

Don’t kid yourself that it is. You can waste a lot of years that way.

So you’re successful. You already won.

Now something new is trying to get itself made by you.

It’s back there right now, pre-heating the oven and polishing the mixing bowls. It’s sifting the flour and zesting the lemons. All the ingredients are laid out, waiting.

But… you’re out front, serving the same cold food.

Making what you know will sell isn’t working for you anymore, L.

You’re being called to go deeper and be braver. It’s time to take risks again. That’s how you’ll recover from this boredom and fatigue. That’s how you’ll ground these electrifying feelings.

Tell your band of customers and your three loyal retailers that new work is coming, then go into your studio and make some new work.

​Approach some new stores while you’re at it.

And see if you can offer the odd word of comfort or support to your Instagram friends. Pass on some skills. They might have more followers, but you have twenty years of experience.

You’re wild and weird and fizzing with energy.

For Pete’s sake, put it into your art and push it out into the world, whether anyone cheers you on or not.

With every warm wish for your success,

Clare

PS – I am cheering you on.

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