**(This article was originally published on Midland Moms Blog)**
A few Halloweens back, I had just finished painting my face like the singer in Gotye’s video for “Somebody that I used to know.” Actually, I begin with lies…I did it just because it seemed like a cool thing to do. I don’t need to ride the coattails of Halloween to dress up, plus I just really like that song. So, there I was feeling so mildly impressed with myself and maybe a little extra sassy, that an argument erupted between my husband and I. You’d think that he would be used to quarreling with me in that manner of make-up, but I felt dumb and hard to take serious with the MTV face on, so I quickly washed it off, mid argument. I’m still not really over it (having to remove the epic facepaint), but it prompted me to pursue another shot at creativity at an upcoming birthday celebration for MOMS Club.
If I was going to paint someone else’s kids, I figured I’d better go for something a little more fancy than my drugstore, Wet-n-Wild palette (pronounced pal-lay). So, I found something more professional looking from Michael’s, and we headed on over to Cowden Park for the party, Snazaroo kit in tow. My daughter wanted to be a pink cat and she was so happy with how it turned out that it fueled me enough to go for it, to take the risk of sharing my talent outside of my comfort zone. As I finagled my way around an impromptu painting of a Veggie Tales duo, the wiggly little girls mama said, “You are pretty good at this.”
With the confidence and inner strength of a lion, I unabashedly flipped my mane back and said, “Thank you! I know I am!”
Just kidding. Who does that?
I don’t really remember what I replied, but was probably thinking “Are you kidding me? I don’t know what I’m doing. This is terrible. Tomatoes are supposed to be ROUND! Why did I agree to painting a cucumber on a kids FACE?!” The other designs I did that day have slipped from my memory, but those words remain fresh. “You are pretty good at this.”
Thankfully, I didn’t get any more vegetable-with-eyes requests, but I did see a lot of rainbow induced smiles and received so many delightful words of encouragement. These gifts were louder than my internal dialogue and I continued to bring my little paint kit to play dates and parties. My weekends filled up with more opportunities to add color to the world and I just kept showing up.
What has someone told you that you are good at? Do you counter the statement with some form of humble disagreement? Perhaps you say a simple “Thank you”, but know in your heart of hearts that you aren’t as good at it as somebody else that you know, read, saw, or heard. You know you can do better, work harder, get closer. But, have you ever considered that your “just ok” might be the next person’s measure of spectacular?
Recently, as I was looking through my foggy shower door, I imagined all the designs I could make if the blurry colors I saw were combined into a “one stroke”. These super magical paints allow you to seamlessly blend colors into awesome designs. It brought back the voices from the folks who have asked me if I am an artist. I would usually say, “No, JUST a facepainter.” I wasn’t an artist because there are better ones than me. I wasn’t an artist because that would make me too full of myself. I wasn’t an artist because I’m not good enough and am afraid to embarrass myself (surprise!). But, there is something to be said about silencing your insecurities and embracing the gifts and talents that people have repeatedly told you you are good at. Perhaps good enough is better than paralyzing perfection. It was that moment in the steam, watching the water droplets fall, that I saw myself differently, “Yes, I AM an artist. Who else stands in the shower and thinks of colors this way?? Only an artist would do that!”
Color and beauty can be found in all kinds of unsuspected places, especially deep into the mundane and broken. We can look closer to see what else is there, what’s workable, what can be grafted into something purposeful, useful, beautiful…into something that can be revived. Perhaps artistry is at the core of encouragement, learning, teaching, face painting, and all the things that make me feel alive.
So, this is for any and all of the things that you discount in yourselves because you don’t have a ribbon, enough followers, or fancy piece of paper with your name on it. There might be better moms than you, better bodies, better employees, better writers, and people with better eyelashes than you ( just fill in the blank #amiright), but it’s all a matter of perspective. There will always be room for improvement and growth, but we can start with awareness and acceptance of the things that everyone and their dog already knows to be true about us. Don’t give power to the doubts and start moving forward, embracing your gifts, your talents, and even your perceived mediocrity. Get your equivalent of a fancy art kit, show up, and take the risk.
Have you seen a child’s face when they look in the mirror for the first time after getting facepainted? You know the look. They have been given an opportunity to see themselves as they have never seen themselves before. They have been transformed! I may not be the best facepainter, or the best artist ….but I am pretty good at enriching lives with color and vibrancy so people can see themselves differently, not only as Elsa or Spiderman, but as a person of deep, deep value and beauty. Only an artist does that. I am an artist…JUST a facepainter is now “just somebody that I used to know.”