the foundation of growth :: my very personal story…

This was really daunting to think about at first.  Then as my mind raced from topic to topic I noticed there was a bit of continuity between my seemingly random thoughts.  The common thread? Identity.  This topic, so innate for so many, has been true discovery for me since I can remember.  When you grow up the only little black girl in the middle of a perfectly manicured white suburb…well you can see how things could get confusing.  (Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful childhood full of wonderful friends and wouldn’t change a thing.)

Flash forward twenty some odd years, and the struggle continued although it had evolved.  No longer was I worried about what this group or that group thought about me and my rather fair-skinned social circle.  That journey ended with a hard line in the sand – on the other side of the line was written ‘this is just who I am world so there!’.  Now the struggle was on the professional end – the right to call myself an artist.

I know this must sound so very silly to many of you, but this is truly how the story goes.  You see I did not study art in school, have deeply artistic parents, or dream of painting ever since I could remember.  In my eyes – I had no creds!  There was about a six month period after leaving Nordstrom that I would use every word in the book to describe what I do, how it works, where you can see it…but I would never just say I’m an artist.  Why was it so hard?  

My husband began to pick up on my evasive maneuvers and pushed me to call a spade a spade.  He told me that none of my excuses mattered to anyone but me.  The fact is you are an artist, there is just no way around it.  From there I would literally stand in front of the mirror and make myself say ‘I am Khristian, and I am an artist.‘  I am a firm believer that saying things aloud makes them true, and has that little side effect of making you accountable!  I began to make I am an artist my answer to the what do you do question.

I am sure you are wondering by now how the heck is this a story about growth!  In my eyes there is no growth without identity and self-belief.  Not only did my soul grow through this process, but so did the validity and quality of my work.

you can find more stories of growth here on scoutie girl and over at crafting an mba.

14 thoughts on “the foundation of growth :: my very personal story…

  1. This is phenomenal story and I can totally relate to it. I have a hard time telling people what I do, I guess I just don’t know what to say. I mean, I’m a student getting a degree but that’s not the ‘real’ me, that’s just the ‘me’ I feel like people are expecting to hear back. Really though, I am a designer and creator of knitted goods. It just doesn’t feel like that’s what those who ask that question want to hear about so I stick with the ‘I’m a student getting my degree’ answer.

    1. I really had to stop thinking about what other people would think of my answer. To some people artist means a whole slew of negative things (poor, flighty, don’t think I need to go on) In my eyes it means someone who is on a higher plane. Someone who can see what others can not. I would tell myself that I was not worthy to share this title with so many that I admired. Well what a crock of poo that was! All those people that I admire so, are just people like you and me! Pick you name and where it proud!! :)

  2. That is a great story. Saying things out loud do make them seem real and legitimate. I gone from mumbling “I make jewelry” to saying “I create wire jewelry.” There is always room to grow!

  3. awesome story! thanks for sharing. i still have a hard time thinking i’m an artist too. it’s so much easier for me to say designer. not sure why that is, maybe i need to work on that! thanks for the push!

  4. As a person who actually owns a piece of your artwork and lives with it every day, I can attest to your talent. As I get to know more about you and the road you’ve taken, I am appreciative that you decided to take this path.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

  5. Thanks for sharing! There’s always that self-doubt and fear when it comes to being an artist. And it takes strength to stick yourself out there – I can say it’s been interesting seeing what you’re up to. :) I completely relate – I stumbled when people ask me what I do and “who” I am.

  6. I can really relate to this post. Growing up I shared some of the confusing ‘where do I fit in?’ thoughts. Then the battle to actually come right out and call myself an artist. Even though being an artist is my career, I still feel the self doubt every now and again. It’s great to have a supportive husband though isn’t it :) It makes a world of difference.

    1. yes! what would I do w/o him!!! I think occasional doubt is normal, but we should never shy away or deny who we are at our core. Just as everything else in life, it is daily practice!

  7. Thank you for all your comments! It is good to hear this is not a solitary struggle. I urge you all to draw your own line in the sand. I promise your breath will be a little fuller, you will stand a bit taller, and doors will open without a single knock!

  8. I too have really struggled with this, and to top it off I married an “artist with a degree”. People come into our home and instantly give him the credit. Josh has learned to speak up and give me credit where credit is due. It’s funny though, in the past I expected people to recognize that I too was an artist, yet I never fully recognized it. Even now I struggle to call myself that. Hmmm, maybe I need to work on my affirmation statements in the mirror. I really wonder what is at the root of this?

  9. You are the only person who can define who you are. We must not let the opinions or presumptions of others dictate how we feel about ourselves. Your own self confidence will ultimately define the real you and what you think of yourself is all that really matters.

  10. I don’t put too much stock in labels anyway. They can be rather confining you know. Once your a ‘fly fisherman’ it’s like sacrilegious to fish with any thing other than an expensive fly rod, in expensive wading attire. Artists design and designers create art. There are a lot of crafty people that walk the line of bad art and a lot of self titled artists that don’t know their craft very well.

    I didn’t go to art school, and I don’t have my work hanging in galleries (yet), but I do make a decent living making art full time, and a lot of people with work hanging in galleries don’t get to make art full time. Some of the things I do are more design, or the work of a craftsman. I do a lot of large wood carvings and some of the time I even use a chainsaw. I’m not a ‘chainsaw carver’ per se, but sometimes I am. People don’t realize that the chainsaw is just the means to an end, a tool, it’s the paint brush of the large wood sculptor. People don’t think of ‘chainsaw carvers’ as real artists or sculptors. The guys cranking out porch bears give large carving a bad wrap, and most other forms of wood carving belong to old retired guys in need of a hobby, not artists. But it’s a lot easier to sculpt in clay than wood, and getting a sculpture turned into bronze is more a matter of money than elevating the art form.

    When people ask what I do I usually just say I’m an artist, because that’s the simplest and broadest term. Then they ask what I do as an artist and I find myself at a loss again trying to avoid labeling myself. I just want to say I make cool *&^%.

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