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 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.
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.
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.