The Idol Effect

Sometimes its difficult to defend my existence. Artists often doubt themselves after every work left half completed, after every stroke gone astray. Every critique erases ten compliments. Brushing off the anxiety can be more difficult than all the other parts of making art put together. How do I know I'm good enough? What is good enough?

Sitting at the kitchen table, my mom is watching me fight a loosing battle with a taco out of the corner of her eye while trying to stay focused on the TV. American Idol is on, its the first week. A woman is singing and its a surprisingly accurate rendition of a goat bleating into a tin can. Mom is amused. I am depressed, and not by the fact that no one taught me how to properly maintain the structural integrity of a hard taco. 

It should be funny, and to my mom it is, but Goat-Lady and I have too much in common. For one, I also sing like tortured livestock, though skillfully avoid cameras and only annoy my friends who are prisoners in cars. Deeper than that, Goat-Lady is bleating her heart out, her eyes are swelling with pride as she puts her all into it. She knows it's good singing, everyone tells her shes great at it. When she stops, and the judges are relieved that the song "broken glass being shot at cattle" has ended, a disappointed silence fills the room. What becomes audible, far louder than whatever the judges begin to say, is her transition from boasting pride to a shriveled husk. "No No, You don't understand, see. I've been working so hard on this, see? I know I'm good. Everyone tells me I'm good! EVERYONE. You're wrong, you have to be, this is the only thing I love. They cant all be liars. I'm GOOD at this!"

They were all liars. She was terrible. 

 The anxiety will tell me that my friends are all liars. I have been in front of judges and despite my fears, every hard critique has not stopped me. Goat-Lady will continue to sing in the shower, and I continue to draw. Being creative is a process and not a product. No one ever feels done, or satisfied, or good enough. It is difficult to pause that pressing need and simply turn around to feel accomplished. I will always see work I respect and admire, I will always have new goals. The day I stop striving to improve is the day I have failed to be "good enough."

1 comment:

  1. If this entry had a "Like" button or better yet an "I relate to this on a painful visceral level" button, I would click both.