Wow — here we go. My first time guest-blogging for a friend and art-maker and I’m really sweatin’ the intro. Do I need to establish credibility? How self-depricating is too self-depricating? Do I completely negate myself right off the bat and hope you’ll stick with it?
If you’re anything like me, self-applying the label “artist” can lead to an instant case of Imposter Syndrome (see above). My inner dialogue goes a little something like this (editor’s note: Fargo accent), “Mara, people like you are not artists. You are from a small, nothing town. You didn’t go to a fancy, important school or win artistic awards. You didn’t even study this stuff. Seriously, who do you think you are?” SO. MANY. TIMES. At times a never-ending tape loop that would leave me feeling zero confidence about expressing myself in ANY way. Yet, I knew if I didn’t express myself I would repress myself into nonexistence.
Someone gave me great advice for disrupting that tape loop spiral. She said, “Nobody cares, so say what you want to say.” (Ok, she doesn’t want me to tell you, but my friend, Tamara, said that.)
About a year ago, I reached out to her for counsel as I began the process of writing my first play. This was uncharted territory for me. I knew I was going to need boatloads of support to push through fear and perfectionism if I was actually going to make it happen. What I didn’t realize I needed was to lower the stakes. NOBODY CARES. Nobody cares! And not in a nihilistic, screw-it-what’s-the-point kind of way, but rather a completely empowering “GO FOR IT” kind of way. It matters and it doesn’t matter. For me, those words contained a type of creative freedom I had never felt.
Somewhere buried in this anecdote is, I believe, one of the very things Artist Soapbox can provide for our community. A space where we can hear each other express self-doubt and realize we’re not the only one who struggles with these feelings. An opportunity to feel inspired by our peers who have worked through their own personal obstacles to achieve self-expression. A place to feel encouraged and supported in our unique creative endeavors. We’re all in this together. I’m interested to hear from you. To engage with you. Leave a comment or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
‘Til next time!
Mara Thomas is a Durham-based playwright, actor, musician and teaching artist. Her newest original theatre piece, YES TO NOTHING, was commissioned by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern and played to raving crowds at music venues in Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Durham in fall 2017.