No place to hide.
I used to love the spotlight. Before I went to art school to study textile design, I went to theatre school to study acting and collective creation. I was young, hungry, and in search of fame. But the more I fought to be front and centre, the more lost I felt. As much as I wanted to be adored, praise for my creative work never felt like enough. I didn’t just want people to love the characters I played, I wanted them to love me as well.
Eventually, I realized that acting was my way of hiding. Taking on the persona of anyone but myself allowed me to be visible without ever being seen. I sometimes wonder if this is how it feels to be a social media star. It seems like everyone is striving for the spotlight these days unaware of just how unfulfilling it can be once you get there. So I have been thinking about what it means to not hide in my current creative practice.
When I initially decided to use puppets as a key part of my teaching and coaching work it was because I was looking for ways to stop hiding. That and I was feeling a bit self conscious being in front of the camera. Puppets seemed like an appropriate antidote to relieve this tension. They would pull focus from me onscreen and would also make me stand out like a sore thumb in the coaching and personal finance world; both and.
Hiding is a tricky thing because we can be really good at masking it with perfectionism. We want our work to be the best it can be and so we delay shipping it. That’s hiding. Or, we cover up the work we want to be doing with the work that we think we should be doing; the work that we’re comfortable with and maybe even really good at. That’s still hiding. Worst of all, we tell ourselves that we’ll do what we love when we have more time and/or money. Hiding.
About eighteen months ago, something tipped inside me. Not only was I not interested in hiding anymore, I could no longer stomach my own excuses for not prioritizing my creative practice. I’m the first one to admit that I’m really good at lying to myself. However, for whatever reason, this is no longer an option for me. It began with me realizing that I needed to focus on financial wellbeing and soon after that, I was back to making puppets.
When I talk about getting out of your own way so you can do your best work as a creative, not hiding is one way to do this. It’s by shipping your work and letting your audience decide if it’s good enough. And it’s by bringing your whole self to your creative practice, not just some strategically curated version of you. I doubt the spotlight is going to get less lonely. But it can also be fulfilling and allow you to feel seen as the whole, beautiful human that you are.
So, what helps you to stop hiding so you can share your work?