Trying something new is scary. It is so easy for us to convince ourselves that something is too hard or way beyond our skill level. Why this is, I don't know. I'm not sure of the psychology of it; I just know that we all do it. We get in our own way and keep ourselves from stepping out and taking risks. I suppose some of why we do it is because we don't want to fail at something. We would rather stay in our comfort zones and excel at what we know. It is risky and scary to put ourselves in a vulnerable position to fail. But why do we always hop right to the negative? Do we experience failure with every new thing we do? If so, civilization would never have advanced. In order to advance in our arts, we have to take risks and try something new. Yes, we may fail, but we may also succeed. You might just find an area of interest and talent that you didn't know existed.
Many of you know that I taught high school English on several Indian reservations. While on the Pine Ridge in South Dakota, I asked a class to take a stab at writing poetry. They laughed at me and scoffed. But they stepped out on the water with me and took that step. The whole class developed into amazing poets. They had been given an avenue of expression that they had never thought about or experienced before. They began writing poetry on their own even during their own time. I self published a book containing their poetry that I still have and treasure to this day. I ran into one of my students after leaving the reservation and he said that he was still writing poetry. Yay!
Many of my customers registered extremely tentatively for Nancy Fuller's thread painting class. They have PTSD when it comes to anything related to free motion quilting. They took that risk before, failed, and don't want to experience it ever again. I encouraged people to take the risk one more time and give this a try. It was different from other forms of free motion quilting that I thought would appeal to them. They stepped out on the water with me, and they had a great experience! Everyone in the class overcame their trepidation and made beautiful art.
Advancing in our skills takes risk and courage. We have to face our fears and charge head first into new challenges and opportunities. I encourage you all to take on new challenges as they become available to you or seek them out. You never know what greatness awaits you. Failure--maybe--but we learn as much (if not more) from our failures. But you may just find success and a new way of expressing yourself through a new found artform.