Once upon a time, in an art class far, far, away, I was asked to draw an apple. As realistically as possible.
Instead, I drew a poop floating in a toilet. A modern post-apple, you could say.
My professors took it in stride. “Fancying yourself a conceptualist, eh?” they wise-cracked. They gave me some tips to make my piece even more out there, to really lean into the ridiculousness.
But deep down, I wasn’t trying to be a conceptualist, or ridiculous.
I was just really, really scared of drawing an apple.
I wasn’t a realist painter then, and I’m not a realist painter now. Deep down, I knew it would be hard to draw that apple, so I found a clever and memorable way to skirt the issue entirely.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I was afraid to face the gap between what I could do and what I couldn’t.
Thing is, growth demands that we face that gap, and cross it.
The bridge-building and gap-crossing process can be pretty messy, strewn with false starts and frustration. And ugly apples.
You will suck at something before you excel. Unless you’re a savant, that’s just a fact of life.
I’ve heard it takes ten thousand hours to master a skill. So why would we chastise ourselves and stop if we don’t get it in ten? Or even a thousand? Why would we let being terrible in the beginning stop us from mastery?
Celerate being terrible. Revel in how much you suck. It’s a sign you are well on your way to being a master.
If I had been aware of my fear twelve years ago and overcome it by drawing that apple anyway, maybe I would be traveling the world, kicking ass in international photo-realist apple drawing competitions. Who knows?
What’s your apple? What’s one thing you could start doing now in order to bridge that gap?
(And how do you like those apples I drew at the top of this post?)
Here’s to building bridges and crossing gaps,