Back in 2016, when I was new to Instagram, I was scrolling through all these gorgeous illustrations of freeform watercolor flowers. Videos and images of a slender hand with a paintbrush swirling it like a wand and colors seeping out at the edge of the bristles.
In my eyes, these amazing people were magicians. They were performing purely enchanting magic. I couldn’t take my eyes off them.
For hours, I’d dive deep into different watercolor hashtags, witnessing the magic over and over again. At one point, one thought sparked in me.
Almost immediately, it bled into my mind like watercolor paint spreading onto a wet paper:
I want to paint with watercolor too.
Immediately, I shoved the thought away. I grabbed a metaphorical tissue paper and lifted that bleeding watercolor paint off my canvas mind. Because… I couldn’t. I was never good at watercolor, that’s what I kept telling myself. And so I went on with my life, inspired and captivated and completely jealous of the artists I see in my mobile screen.
That is… Until I was standing on the school and office supplies store. In front of a shelf of student quality watercolors.
You know that part when Moana sang about the line where the sky meets the sea, “It calls me”?
That was me in the student grade art supplies aisle that day.
It was one of those few times in my life when I let neither fear nor self-doubt stop me. I didn’t think about anything. I didn’t have an impromptu performance with my chicken and sang about how I’ve been staring at the edge of the water(color) the way Moana did.
Before I knew it, I was at the cashier with a set of watercolor tubes and brushes clutched at each hand.
That fear that you’re going to suck and it’ll be awful.
On New Things and the Fear of Starting
You will suck. That’s probably the most likely scenario.
I’m not saying this to be a Jenny Raincloud, by the way. I’m saying this because it’s true. You’re new to this. Of course you’re not going to master it overnight. Give yourself some slack, my sweet exhausted potato. Embrace the suck.
And if it gives you any comfort, no one started out being a master.
Picasso spent his early days as a painter being ridiculed for his art. He was told his art was not good. PICASSO. (I know this because National Geographic told me.) I’m quite certain that Mozart didn’t come out of his mother’s womb with a piano and composing iconic music after iconic music. And Colonel Sanders! Grandpa KFC, of all people, started out his fried chicken empire far later into his life. These people have achieved success in one way or another. And th good news? They all achieved it in various ways and at various points in their lives.
You can too, if you stop listening to fear.
Why the Fear is There
The first time I attempted to paint galaxy, it ended up looking like a hot pot of guts and brains. You know, the kind that not even the hungriest of zombies would go near.
And I stayed that way for months.
Imagine if you tried inserting the USB plug on your laptop for a hundred times. And miserably failed on all those times? I was that frustrated. Probably 75% of that time I contemplated on throwing everything I bought and never lay my hands on watercolor ever again. The fear was constantly whispering to my ear that I sucked and that we should just stop this. Gosh, it was right there with me at the art supplies aisle. And it was there again when I was about to put my first watercolor stroke on paper. And the next. And the next. Fear is always with us.
But see, friend, here’s what I learned: The fear is there for a reason.
It needs you to be grounded. It needs you to be realistic. To not get your hopes too high up in the clouds. But if you allow that fear to take control, to take full control?
You’ll be so grounded in your place that you wouldn’t be able to move.
And this is where you’ll come in. You have to have your own volition to move. To take the first step. To grab that watercolor from the shelf. To make your first stroke on paper. To write that first sentence. To stand up and speak out. To let fear be with you every step of the way, but to never let it take hold of the wheel.
You can’t do what you want to do unless you do it. You have to turn that wanting into being.
Make “I want to paint” become “I am painting.”
Make “I want to speak out” become “I am speaking out.”
Make “I want to tell this story” become “I am telling this story.”
You can never magically be what you want to be. You have, first of all, to take action.
And once you’ve taken that first step, don’t stop. Because, believe me, I know how harder the next steps will be. And it will be Super Tempting to just shrug off and say, “Eh. I tried.” But the next step is going to be your new first step. So you have to keep at it. You have to keep going.
Until you are what you want.
Is there something you’ve been wanting to do for a really long time? Have you taken the first step to do it? If you have, share some tips on how to conquer that fear of starting! We welcome all the wisdom you have 🙂
Photos from Death to Stock and Ivory Mix