A Few Words on Doubt

The following paintings have stayed on file for a while now (months even) because I haven’t been able to articulate how I feel about them. Are they worth posting? Will anyone resonate with what I’m saying? Is this just a “fluff” post? When it comes to this blog of mine, there are hoards upon hoards of drafted posts gathering virtual dust for exactly those reasons. But sometimes I need to ask, and we all need to ask, what’s stopping us?

As you can see from my sporadic posting, I tend to succumb to the voice in my head that challenges the value of my thoughts and ideas. In fact, he or she or it has become something of a jedi in wielding these powerful words of doubt against me – and not only in the sphere of blogging. Doubt can parade into every part of my life. Is this outfit too look-at-me? Did I just destroy that first impression? How can I even consider applying for this? 

All of those questions, hesitations, and insecurities brought on by doubt means one thing: Doubt stops me in my tracks when I’m on the road to something good, to something happy and meaningful. And so I’ve come to realize:

The grip of doubt on our ambitions can be exhausting; the grip of doubt on our confidence and happiness can be lethal.

Doubt, to me, is easier to face when it’s personified. Rather than looking at it as some intangible force that renders us weak and powerless from the inside out, as this seems virtually impossible to contest, try looking at it as something outside of yourself. Try looking at Doubt as the bully that picks on you when you’re being you. When you’re leaping into new ventures, finding happiness in the now, or sporting red lips to the grocery store – Doubt is the one who pulls you back, mid-air, from that euphoric mental jump you’re taking into new places.

As any bully then, Doubt grew up in an atmosphere of insecurity. It did not arise out of malice, but genuine fear and uneasiness about its value. So, as hard as it may be, give Doubt a hug. Stroke its frazzled hair and talk through its worries. Why, Doubt, do you not want to apply for this writing contest, or this internship? Because when you scream into my ear that I don’t have the slightest chance, or that this is a waste of time because there will inevitably be better writers, better applicants, and better people out there, I know you don’t really think these are valid reasons. I think you, and I, am worth it. I think that we can do this together. I just need your support. 

Whenever I look Doubt in the eye, I can see that my worries are its fears. It’s fascinating, really, to look inward and see the multiple relationships we have with ourselves alone. It’s incredibly valuable, albeit difficult, to challenge the more painful relationships. I often tiptoe around them, not wanting to confront where they have come from, but as soon as I sit with them, I feel my ambitions and confidence returning.

 

I need to remind myself to practice looking inwards daily. My life right now is made up of so many if’s, how’s, maybe’s that I could burst from uncertainty. It’s as though I’m losing myself a little bit the more I let Doubt take over me. Who knows – maybe if I don’t confront Doubt, I will become Doubt. On the contrary, however, if I let confidence back in the picture, I can return to the self I find pride in. I like that self.

So where do you stand on Doubt? What is its role in your life and how do you cope?


 

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In full circle, here are the paintings that I didn’t think anyone else would find interesting/cool/neat/groovy/awesome. But you know what? I think that was Doubt speaking.

Kim McCarty’s Boys & Girls

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Like blurry afterimages drifting past closed eyelids, Kim McCarty’s watercolors hover between presence and absence, innocence and wisdom, and past, present, and future. Working rapidly, at times using only a single color and at others a haunting, bruise-inspired palette of acid yellows, greens, and browns, McCarty’s portraits evoke the sense of uncertainty, ambivalence, anxiety, and loss with which we view today’s generation. – Maloney Fine Arts

We see a lot on the internet. Some, rightfully so, may say too much. But true and complete genius strikes me still when I see it. Kim McCarty’s series, Boys & Girls, overwashed me with wonder.

First, I felt a sense of loss. Heartbreaking loss. The blurred colors almost look like the product of tears watering them down. Then, I saw passion. That same use of blurred reds, pinks, and peaches in the woman leaning forward looks to me like a body that is radiating warmth after making love. The woman approaching us, whose naked body is a myriad of greens, yellows, blues evokes a similar sense of earthy sensuality rather than explicit sexuality.

When I consider the title, my perspective changes. The fused colors don’t necessarily represent sorrow but merely an unformed impression of the world around us. Adolescence and childhood is a time of absorbing what’s around you. We are unsure as to who we are, filling in the lines of our dreams and personality as we age. Perhaps the edges become more defined with age and perhaps they don’t. Perhaps we don’t even want them to.

So, there you have it. The thoughts, short & sweet, that sat on the shelf of half-written blog posts for months on end. Now, I could write more, but there’s something satisfying about showing the thoughts in their unedited form – the form I had doubted for so long – presented as is. As is. Hold my hand, Doubt, we’re getting better at this.

*m

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