Scar Tissue

The strangest, and maybe most difficult thing about transitioning into a freelance artist’s life is promoting yourself.

I hate this.

Think about it.  At work, do you let everyone know when you got an Excel formula right; gave an employee a tough review with positive results; updated a patient chart with skill; unload a new shipment using proper lifting techniques; graded 32 papers; or finished an inventory-reconciled to the penny?

Do you?

Do you go onto Facebook, Twitter, and such to let everyone know what you’re doing day-to-day in your work? Do you ask everyone to read your work-progress blog, see what you’re doing, and hope they think you’re a really great worker, and even go so far as to comment about the great job you did with that…Excel formula?

If you’re not an ego-maniac, then the answer is “no”.  In fact typically the only person you need to point out the highlights of your work is to your boss (or the boss you want to work for).

So in this new life I’m attempting, my boss, in the sense of making an income, that I need to impress, presenting my work for approval… that’s you.

That’s weird.

Freelance artists are constantly letting the public know what’s going on, what new thing they created—else their work is in a vacuum, doing no good, going nowhere. This idea of promoting myself gives me the heebie-jeebies.

There is a writer I follow; I’ve personally never met him but greatly admire his work. He’s blogging, writing for a well-known on-line magazine, guest-writing, ghost-writing, etc. In fact, there is little going on in his work life that I don’t know. He’s really out there with promoting. Really R.E.A.L.L.Y. out there. And sadly, over time, I’ve become weary of his constant self-promotion. Just the other day his FaceBook status said something like, “I just re-read this, and even I can’t believe how good it is” with a link to that “good stuff” he wrote.

Really?

Ick.

Please, please tell me I don’t have to stoop to this level of promotion. But he’s doing rather good. He’s getting his writing promoted. People are clicking on the links, getting sucked in. But enough about him.  Let’s egotistically get back to me.

Somewhere along the way— let’s call it “2000”— I lost all my self-worth. A tragic thing happened, and then there was a string of degrading events and betrayals that followed. At that time, my life was absent of any relationship with God; if it wasn’t for my husband’s constant support, I would not have survived that period of my life.

“2000” was when I stopped believing in myself. Even those closest to me, that should have protected me, didn’t. This was my twisted view and confirmation that I had no value. Yet I hung around, allowing myself to be crucified day-in-and-day-out—paying for offenses I didn’t commit. Sometimes I think back on those times, I hate what I allowed to happen. Letting my self-esteem be stripped away by strangers, acquaintances, and worse—by loved ones. In the end, I was left deeply damaged.

That emotional damage is a scar I will live with for the rest of my life. A couple years ago, I finally found the place where I could forgive; in doing so, it created miracles, restored my joy. Yet the memories (those parts we don’t forget—even though we forgave) are so deep and painful that I can’t make that scar go away. And wouldn’t it just be like God to bring me to a time and place—so perfectly orchestrated—where He says, “Baby-Girl, we’re gonna start working on that scar, those feelings, that self-worth issue you’ve been harboring for so long.”

With fear, my little timid heart says, “no.   please.   i can’t.   i’ve been through too much.    sure I have dreams, but i’d rather be a wallflower than risk rejection.    let me continue to hide over in this corner and just write my little silly stuff, and do hobbies, and tinker on the piano in my secluded hidden world.”

And I swear, that small-yet-big voice is saying, “I’m producing, giving you a new something. A seedling that’s been buried deep in your soul since the day I thought you up. I’ve been waiting for the right time to water it, to make it sprout. Baby-Girl, it’s now time. Get up, dry your eyes, I’ll give you courage…I’ll restore the fierce you thought was gone…but you have to take that first step into the unknown. You have to carry that sprout out into the light. Expose it. I’ll be right here. And as you take steps like a new-born, I’ll help you walk. And before you know it, you’ll soar with wings of eagles.”

Dang, I just can’t make that stuff up. I’m creative—but not THAT creative.

Hummm, maybe it really is true; maybe nothing is impossible with God. I can’t see that far ahead.

Ahhh, it may be awkward—like a bitty baby eagle bird in flight—but I have hopes, dreams, and prayers that 2011 might be the year to squash “2000”. I have no idea what the journey will look like. I only know what it feels like I’m supposed to do with the stirrings of my heart—to push myself to do something more than hold a sprouted seed safely in the dark.

Copyright © 2009- 2011 Sherry Meneley . All Rights Reserved . soiledwings.com . sherrymeneley.com . soiled wings

16 thoughts on “Scar Tissue

  1. Self promotion? There is a trap there, one that I live with week in and week out. I’m probably not a good one to answer this one because I don’t do very well at it. I think that if everyone heard my messages and knew what my church was doing for the community we would be busting at the seams. Instead I have some empty seats and have to lay off staff because there is not enough giving to support their continued ministry with us. It feels like steps backward. Sometimes I am tempted to self-promote but then I am reminded that my job is obedience. Honestly, why do I want such notoriety? Why am I not content where I am? I’m not sure I have an answer but I do understand the tension. Maybe when one of us gets famous…we can counsel the other about the benefits of a small following!

  2. Without a doubt, the best things I have ever done in my entire life are the things that have absolutely scared the daylights out of me……And when I “hear” that I am supposed to make a scary move (against my nature or out of my comfort zone), it is then that I know I am hearing the voice of God.
    Starting a new venture is scary, but hang on and enjoy the ride….It is so much more fun than going around and around on the Merry-Go-Round….(And I do believe you can promote your work boldly without promoting yourself obnoxiously!…)

  3. There have been very tough (scary) times in my life. Each time has made me more trusting in the Lord. Maybe getting older tends to do that to ones self . Well, here it goes again another tough time ahead. Hey Lord you still there? 🙂 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5

  4. Yep – self promotion is difficult. For me it cuts across the tension between trying to be humble and trying to serve God with my gifts and not hiding my writing/poetry in a dark dusty box where it will never see the light of day. Nelson Mandela put it well:

    Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
    Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
    It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
    We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous,
    talented, fabulous? actually, who are you not to be?
    You are a child of God.
    Your playing small does not serve the world.
    There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
    so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
    We are all meant to shine, as children do.
    We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
    It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
    And as we let our own light shine,
    we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
    As we are liberated from our own fear,
    our presence automatically liberates others.

    – Nelson Mandela

    So as prophet Nike would say – Just Do It!

  5. Come on!…you, my new blogging hero, has a problem with speaking up…in the positive? I discovered your work quite by accident a few weeks ago and have managed to read all of it. My response? “Finally, a kindred spirit! Slightly off-center, but honest and real…..I bet she would “get” me! I think I enjoy your work so much because you’re not afraid to say the hard things, the unflattering things, about yourself and the world you live in. And let us know what you’ve learned about yourself on the way.

    My advice? Go for it!! I’ve never once regretted trying anything…the things I had the opportunity to do and DIDN”T still haunt me. I think God honors boldness. You have a gift; you know it, I now know it and the rest of the planet should too! God always manages to get the glory when you write, even when you’re relating some failure or sadness in your life. I appreciate that the most about you.

    Step out and God bless! You have a cheerleader in me!

  6. I to found you not long ago on accident. I read one post and had to share with a friend who lives hundreds of miles from me saying “she gets it!!”. I look forward to your new posts. Whatever you do, if you do it with God you can’t go wrong. You can add me to your cheerleader team!

  7. Wow – the post alone was incredible and then all these comments just confirmed my thoughts – you truly have a unique gift and to not “promote” it would do an injustice to the world. Your writing has inspired me and taught me so much about God and life. And your art pieces no doubt bring light to any room they are displayed in, while at the same time sharing a message. I’ve seen you flourish so much in the past 2 and half years, so listen to God and start running with it! (I could be your agent – just let me know who you want me to target) 🙂 I, like you, find it very hard to “sell” myself but have no problem what so ever selling something I love and believe in from someone else.

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