“Shy and insecure” – “Who, …me?”

Posted on June 15, 2013 by in Inspiration
Passion flower : photo credit  Emma Mackay

Passion flower : photo credit Emma Mackay

 It’s been one of those weeks when I had a hunch that I had to do something and yet I had no idea where it will lead and that can be scary!…the thought of me promoting myself is a bit like that.  I know that all the business people tell me it must be done, but I feel so uncomfortable doing it. I hear about win/win situations (my friend Arthur Magoulianiti, kindly reminded me of this a few times and Arthur.…I do listen and I know you are right!) and I believe them to exist and yet sometimes, I doubt that what I have produced could be seen by others as beneficial; that others may feel that I am the only one benefitting from the promotion….and yet, in my heart I know it not to be true.

Believe me this is not what some would call “fishing for compliments”.  It is only in recent years, I have learnt to accept compliments without shying away and believe it or not, I am shy.

Now people may totally think that is not true, for goodness sake I have this whole website here “showing off” what goes on in my shed.…I can take myself off and introduce myself to complete strangers and chat quite happily, I am pretty experienced at that but still, there is a bit of me that would happily shy away from attention, I would even often say I don’t need the attention.  Can this be true? We don’t need attention?

Tracy McAlister Mackay - Collection of Muzeum Miasta Gdyni

Tracy McAlister Mackay – Collection of Muzeum Miasta Gdyni

When it comes to working on your creative ideas and getting your artwork seen, hiding your light doesn’t really work! Who is even going to know you exist if you don’t show your work to someone in the first place?.…you can’t be “discovered” if no one knows where to find you! Trusting someone with that precious idea that has been playing on your mind for a long time is what you have to do and yet fear of sharing it with anyone, let alone put it out in public for all to see, can sometimes seem insurmountable.  Maybe it needs to be shared in a place that feels safe or with someone you trust?

How have I come to a place where I happily post any picture on Facebook without an apparent care and even post writing that sometimes completely shows apparent inadequacies in my editing ability?  I do it, because I have learnt through a lot of practice, a lot of experience and encouragement that the risk is worth taking. My fear may have been almost debilitating at times, but I know from experience how to take that next step and how freeing that can feel.

Now many, many people may never feel like this, I have however had a few years of experience now to know that even the person who you would have pointed out in the room as being the most capable and most confident, has their moments too. It’s not pointing out a failing in them by saying this, it’s just….we are all human. Never a day that passes is quite the same as the one before…

So this week, I had to put up a page for “praise/testimonials” on my website….the thought initially was excruciating.…it felt like I was publically asking for compliments and yet I know it will also give others the opportunity to show what they are doing too. Win/win? and….the fear – maybe no one would see the need to praise a shed in the Med or me for that matter!

I went to my website and made a start. I had a bit of intuition to do it and I set about with the plugins and widgets and wordpress website set up (I knew nothing of this either, a few years back) and I posted the first message of praise, messaged to me by Lulu Horsfield (I trusted from our communication that she may help me out of my predicament…. also, another friend I confided in, told me that some people even send out what they want the people to say – I would rather die first!)….Lulu’s words were so apt, in a way I couldn’t have asked for – thank you Lulu. My aim – to connect with those who may have felt the same but should not be left in the dark.

lulu copy

Eventually, I worked out that I could upload a form for people to fill in on the website, for others to write their testimonials.  A website developer had made this, so others must see the need too?…and so after telling some people about the testimonial form, I was overwhelmed by the comments that came in, day by day.

When you work away on your own, you may never know what people think of what you are making. When you are a student or in a group, you have friends, colleagues or tutors to offer opinions, but often as not, many creative individuals work away, through choice or circumstance, alone. If your job is to create artworks/commission, they are often sent away and you never hear the comments, when it hangs in a gallery or a piece is being performed far away or your film is being screened. We create artwork in the majority, not for ourselves only, but for others too.  You may not feel it when you start but actually, you make it for others to have a reaction to, to feel something, to just plain love or connect in a way you could never imagine and so it seems is happening with the Shed with the Chandelier.

Tracy McAlister Mackay – artwork on board Royal Caribbean Internation ship Allure of the Seas

I came across a YouTube interview with the amazing fashion designer Tom Ford.  I was tired so needed a little creative input myself in the same way as we share in the Shed with the Chandelier Facebook group and as I watched his story unfold, he too had to trust his intuition to get where he is now….even the apparent “greats” of fashion have their times of rethinking where they are at and what they are doing.

So as I do most mornings, I visited our Shed with the Chandelier Facebook group page online, to see what was happening there. I posted a thank you to all who had contributed to the praise/testimonial page of this website and then instantly thought of those who may feel shy, may fear sharing what they feel, as a very insignificant contribution when others had websites and blogs etc. etc. We in the group, shine a big bright light at the weekends on what we have all been creating in the Shed with the Chandelier Facebook page, so I added a P.S. to my thank you note –

“P.S. to my post about sharing your creative stuff this weekend – you don’t have to have a website, a blog, a studio, a shed even! to post on the wall of the Shed with the Chandelier Facebook group, if you have just taken your first steps or are reviving your creative passions, have visited a great exhibition, read a great book, film or whatever, please don’t be shy and share with the group. Have a great weekend”

To which came a reply from Elizabeth:

 “Good morning!
Just to say, I liked the P.S. that you just posted. There is so much amazing professional creative stuff going on in the Shed that I think it is easy to feel intimidated. I must admit that I often feel what’s the point of putting in my two penneth … I’m useless, (Where are you Suzy Greaves????) and perhaps others feel the same? Have you ever thought of creating a “corner” for budding creatives, beginners, amateurs? That said I know that the Shed is a tribe and segregation isn’t easy. Anyway, it’s just an idea … probably a crap one but it comes from the heart ♥
Have a lovely day,
Insecure and shy, Burgundy France

In reply I answered:

Elizabeth, I posted it because I know for sure people are feeling like that… I haven’t wanted to create separate places because believe it or not, those who would appear to be the amazing professionals also feel like that….maybe just a bit more practiced at dealing with it….
I got an email this week from someone like that and we have all been there….I was thinking of writing a blog about it….also, I know of those who have started out feeling that way and have grown confident to post their new beginnings and more!….and then how do we recombine the group when someone develops their talents in ways that they may never have dreamed of?
Maybe it comes from my naive belief that we should all be treated the same….and the recorded conversationson the Shed with the Chandelier website, I had hoped would be a way to show that even when everyone seems to be riding high, those same doubts are often hanging around…
I totally appreciate what you are saying, you put your “two penneth in” when you shared in the group and it has been totally valuable! Plus, this is also where the mentoring comes in, because I can privately work with people on that….as I would never name who emailed me above, nor would this be discussed unless it was the wish of the person. Your testimonial, that you so kindly contributed on the website and those of the others, showed that from small beginnings of fear we can all grow amazingly and what amazing stories you have to tell Elizabeth J (See the Tom Ford posting today I imagine you may have an insight!)
I was just thinking this morning, as I was driving back from the school drop off, that those testimonials posted this week really touched me, because I had a little seed of an idea and had no idea how it would pan out really, most definitely not when we stood in the garden bartering over how to get the shed built, plus….did I ever imagine a few years back, that something so dramatic happening to me could develop into something that seems to be of benefit to others as much as to me, even if I had hoped for it to be so….
Thank you so much for being brave and sharing your thoughts x”
….the conversations continue online click here and join in. 

Thank you Elizabeth, from Burgandy France, for inspiring this blog post.

Do you agree or have you some thoughts on the subject?  Please feel free to let me know in the space below.

What steps do you need to take today? If you feel like you are the one who would be shying away in the corner of the Shed with the Chandelier, let me be the one to gently encourage you out into the light at your own speed, seriously, no faster than you wish!