IN EVERY AVENUE I PURSUE IN THE ARTS, I’m always encountered with doubt and despite how often it surfaces in creative spaces, its appearance is remarkably un-creative. It takes shape in the form of procrastination, excuses, and of course everybody’s favorite—nagging criticism. And yet despite doubt’s regularly unscheduled visits in little rooms across my mind— often times on the verge of some great or daunting project— I’ve come to accept from my moments of doubt that they are the best opportunities to take risks.
That mindset is a trap
Because it inhibits discovery and exploration.
When I reflect on the anxiety that surrounds doubt, for me, it has everything to do with fear of living up to past expectations. The lurking plot twist of success or even surpassing performance on a project is that the bar is only ever set higher. But that mindset is a trap because it inhibits discovery and exploration. When I feel pressured to live up to work I’ve done in the past, I only ever compare myself to what has already been done before. That’s why inklings of doubt are the best indicators as to when it’s time to approach things at a different angle.
For photography, this manifests as mimicry. I’ll see a photograph in the world, examine the elements that went into the photo, and then shy away from allowing my own interpretation to take shape. For videography, this more commonly shows up as procrastination. Whenever I have a reel of footage that may not have come out the way I imagined or a blurb of audio that clips, if I’m looming in doubt I’d avoid it like the plague. However, all growth stems from sitting in moments that unsettle us— in those flashes of uncertainty where we either make a new choice or decide to do the same thing.
I read in a book once that making new choices is quite literally forging a road where one didn’t exist prior— the only difference is that it’s not a road, it’s a neural pathway. I used to blame myself when new routines fell flat six days in because I didn’t recognize that making new choices with my life required me to linger a little longer in doubt. That, doubt, could in fact offer me a lot of clarity.