nix the disclaimers

expect good things print

i was talking to a client on the phone today. We are friendly, so i was sharing with him my nervousness over a large batch of drawings i need to submit to another client at week’s end. It’s my first submission to a client this big & i’m nervous that the work will be satisfactory.

He called me out and said, “I bet you were that kid in school who always swore she failed the test when in reality, she ended up getting an A+!”

He’s right. i was that kid.

But for the life of me, i’m not sure what my deal was. Was i really afraid i’d failed? Was i afraid of failing in general? Or did i somehow feel a need to place a disclaimer before everything i did? i think maybe it was the latter. I’ve been thinking about it all day now. And what i’ve come up with is that i wanted to beat any naysayers to the punch. If i were to fail, i didn’t want anyone feeling bad for me or giving me consoling pats on the back.

The disclaimer was my friend and my cushion.

But as i chatted with my boss today, i realized i don’t want to be that person anymore. Now that i’m a grown-up, i’d rather have a certain level of confidence that the folks who hire me have given me their trust for a reason.

i just finished testing out my theory as i worked on some of the final drawings for the aforementioned client. Instead of my usual trepidation, and a little bit of fear that the work i’m creating won’t be good enough, i just lost myself in the process and went with my gut. It was a pretty nice change!

You know, writing this column every 2 weeks has really forced me to reflect on my art, and my feelings about it so much. i didn’t realize it would be so introspective and that it’d force me to challenge myself so consistently. But now i think i’ll add a “no disclaimers” policy to my life. i’ll simply try do what i do to the best of my ability and begin to expect good things.

artwork by HereMyDear on etsy

10 thoughts on “nix the disclaimers

  1. I do the same thing sometimes, Stephanie. For me, it has to do with being a perfectionist, which means that there are times when I put off doing something because I’m afraid of failing. So if we put a disclaimer on our work, it’s telling people (and ourselves) that we know it’s not perfect and that they shouldn’t value it so much. I don’t do it anymore, at least not in public! I still tell myself these things at times, but what we tell ourselves about our work has an impact on how other people view it.

  2. Now, Stephanie I was that girl too – but over the years I think I’ve worked it out – I wasn’t afraid of failure – I was afraid of success – and the idea that I’d have to maintain that level of success or people would think badly of me.

    I haven’t quite worked through it yet, as I find that I still procrastinate even when I’m buzzing with creativity, but I’m learning … great post, thank you!

  3. too true! I’ve also been trying to shed this default presentation style I must have developed pre adolescence. I try to just do my best within the boundaries of the project and not forecast how others will perceive and evaluate it.

  4. It took four years of intense art school critiquing sessions while in college to break me of this, though I will whole-heartedly admit I still have relapses. It’s somehow deeply rooted in my process, though at least I can now recognize and anticipate my disclaimer tendencies. Good to know I’m not alone!

  5. Oh, hello, Me! I constantly do this, and recently was about to announce a new project that was sprinkled with apologetic undertones. Luckily, I caught myself in time. For me, it’s a result of producing work without any formal training to back it up. It’s like that lack of a degree or certification means that there will always be an element of crap to my work. Sure, maybe it takes me ten times longer to crank out as I fumble my way through the learning process and don’t know the shortcuts, but no one else needs to know that, now do they?

  6. My self doubt got the better of me and I walked a way from what I really wanted to do. Its really hard to come back from that , let me be a cautionary tale, don’t EVER walk away.

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