Friday, June 30, 2006


Do We Teach Our Kids Self-Doubt?
I should know better by now! Today we walked into Chapters for a summer book fix and when I didn’t find anything in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section that justified paying full paperback price, I wandered over to the children’s book section. I began to flip through book after book to look at the different styles of illustrations that are out there....

"WHACK" Sound of Self-Doubt Mole Being Whacked VERY Soundly! "WHACK"

It’s been hot and sticky and I’ve been trying to get my drawings done without sweating on artwork or sticking to the dining room furniture, but the photo up above shows what kind of mood I was in at almost midnight last night when Nick asked me to smile for his digital camera!

I was quiet when we came back home from Chapters... enough that the kids and Nick noticed. I’ve crawled down to the basement to blog about my thoughts while they finish watching a movie.

So when do we learn to self-doubt as kids? Is this something that the adults around us teach to us in an effort to protect us from being disappointed?

I can still remember how much confidence I used to feel about everything I drew or created. So much so that when I entered the Illustration contest for Jack and Jill magazine the summer that I was 11, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d win! From that point on, I knew that I wanted to create images for a living.

Perhaps it is the world that tries to teach us this as we compete with others. When I got to Fine Arts, the professors habitually critiqued my work to tell me what it was lacking or what was wrong with it instead of how I could make it better. I ended up in photography and printmaking because of the way in which those professors guided and encouraged rather than shredded their students... but I was made to feel very early on that my talent was far from “genius”. I was persistent and stubborn and dedicated, but not particularly gifted in my class according to most of the feedback.

Did I begin to doubt myself as an adult when I first began to look for work and found so little ways to do what I love for money?

If I try to strive for “perfection” then I will never get this book done. If I don’t see any illustrative styles out there that are exactly like mine, then maybe that means my illustrations will stand out more on the shelves. I can only be me...

But I have become so much more cautious about how I speak to my kids when I am helping them learn new skills. I want them to keep more of that impulsive wonder and belief in impossible dreams and odds. Maybe then, they can teach me how to rediscover that for myself and I can learn from them!

3 comments:

Bob, Bobdoc, Dr,Bob and Dad said...

Hi Mousie!!
I LOVE you for all that you were and are and will still become.
You have grown to be such an incredible woman, wife, mother and friend.
Its an honour to be related to such a wonderful daughter

Anonymous said...

I have to say I've been struggling with the self doubt monster also. I'm trying so hard to not create him for my two boys so they can grow to be confident young men. My mom was one to tell you what was wrong instead of what was right and it has made it very hard for me as an adult to make it where I want to be. Thank God he gave me a husband that lets me know what is right about me lots and I try to do that with my boys lots.

hp(gs) said...

This past weekend the HBC run for Canada was in Algonquin Park. My two (11 and 8 years) wanted to run the kids 1km, not walk with me and Grandma Linda in the 3km like last year. The 11 year old was in the top 20 and her brother easily the top third or better over the gang that ran in the event for 12 years and under. "We" are not athletes, and do not expect our children to be. That is our mistake - they still have the "can do" spirit which was replaced by the "I tried, and at least I finished " for me years ago. (I did the Terry Fox 10km in 59 minutes in 1984 in Sackville NB - 2nd to last!) We expect our children to do well in school, but set the bar low in sports. They seem to exceed it often enough that I should probably stop worrying about whether or not they are fit, and enjoy their achievements with less surprise.