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All That’s Left Is To Try

June 28, 2013

I was recently telling someone about how the biggest lesson that I’ve learned since I began this journey called my M.F.A. is that I am not enough as a designer. I’ve been told over and over in different ways with different degrees of tact and ease. My work isn’t good enough, my effort isn’t productive enough, my solution isn’t interesting enough. This would be painful for anyone (right?) but it’s been especially painful for me because somehow, with the exception of one drawing teacher in college, I had never been told that the effort I had put forth was not  good enough for an A (I think this is a shame really, how could I be challenged to do better if I wasn’t being told that better was possible for me?)

Fast forward to two and a half years of slowly breaking down my pride, my confidence, my feeling of entitlement to the letter A. Like building a callous, the most painful part of this process is over. I can now recognize that sometimes even when I am trying as much as I am able, my work isn’t as good as the standards set forth to exceed expectations. I’m not scared of being told no, that’s a terrible idea, or even being disappointed to the point of tears, I’ve been there! So, what’s left? fearlessness! If I try, what is the worst that someone can do except tell me that I have room for improvement, which I am now comfortable with!

What is left is trying to do my best, to put my work in front of other people, to show my strengths and hear how they need to be improved. To see the work of others who are better than I am an see what I can learn from them.

I am in a place now where I can truly take a risk. I can risk my pride. I’ve been a photo contest entering fool, trying to make my way into gallery showings and even spending money to enter juried contests. I hope to have many more exciting things to announce in this area but for now I can say that there is no contest too big or too small to be encouraging!

My friend Russell posted a contest from this great weekly contest site called Lightapalooza2013. This specific week was for a water photo. So, for free, I entered this photo:

and then earlier this week I got a phone call that I’d won! They told me that they would post my photo on their news site and then today in the mail I got this:

This I think is especially wonderful because Josh and I have been looking at this camera for over a year! It was just a wonderful gift from the source of the only boasting I can make (in the gospel) to remind me that my role in all of this is just to keep trying! I just need to keep being faithful in the situations He has put me in and using the skills He has given me!

So, what have you been holding back on? What fears have kept you from taking risks? I’d love to hear what brave things you’ve done recently!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 28, 2013 10:52 pm

    Aw Sabrena, this is so rad. (Bet you didn’t know I stalk you, huh?) The MFA process is such an eye-opener, especially because most of us — I think — come from backgrounds where we’ve already seen success in our area of study. So to have people say, “No,” can be a huge shock to the system.

    I know for me that I have had to learn that I really don’t try hard enough. I mean, I really don’t. Not when compared to others. I guess I lack emotional fortitude? I am not a person who can work when distressed! I’m so impressed by what I have watched my peers (including you) accomplish in the last couple years of this journey, despite a myriad of setbacks.

    One addition: I’d also say that the things we learn (through failure) don’t take away from what we’ve accomplished. Projects that I have struggled with have been refined into some of my favorite portfolio pieces post-semester. In fact, for me, that’s kind of become an M.O. (not one I’d recommend though)!

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